Poughkeepsie Adopts Natural Resources Inventory

POUGHKEEPSIE – City of Poughkeepsie officials have approved the use of a Natural Resources Inventory that will provide planners, developers, and residents with easy access to a wealth of information about the city’s environment.

The inventory consists of 27 maps and offers details about the natural and historic resources in Poughkeepsie. The inventory also includes information about the city’s geology and soils, water resources, and biological communities.

The Environmental Cooperative at Vassar Barns completed the work over the last three years, with a $50,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Program. Vassar College students, faculty and staff also took part in creating the maps and writing the narrative contained in the report. Researchers incorporated information from prior studies about the natural resources of Poughkeepsie as well. And the city’s Shade Tree Commission, the Waterfront Advisory Commission, the Historic District and Landmark Preservation Commission and Planning Board provided input.

“We appreciate the help Vassar Barns and its partners in getting such an important and challenging task accomplished,” said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison. “As researchers point out in this report, the inventory establishes a baseline of environmental conditions in the City.”

Jennifer Rubbo, director of The Environmental Cooperative, said, “This puts all the information in one place and on maps so that it can be seen visually. A resource like this has not been available to the city.”

The Common Council recently adopted the proposed local law after holding a public hearing in August.

“By adopting a Natural Resources Inventory and putting it to productive use in our land-use decision making process, we are taking the necessary steps required for the preservation and protection of our ecosystem which in turn will benefit the health of our residents and our environment,” said Common Council member Sarah Salem, who sponsored the legislation.

The inventory will foster opportunities for smart development, making it easier for planners to take into consideration the stewardship of the city’s land, water, and air. Specifically, planners may use the NRI as a starting point for site development review, and the inventory will enable planners to see how individual parcels relate to their surroundings. The law also requires developers that are going through the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process to consult the NRI as a way to provide a Conservation Analysis to the Planning Board as part of the application process.

“As the City’s Planning Department continues to build capacity, the time, resources, and expertise that went into creating the Poughkeepsie Natural Resource Inventory represents a substantial gift from the Environmental Cooperative to our community,” said City Planning Director Natalie Quinn. “We could not have taken on such a scope of work on our own at this time. Furthermore, the resource has been made easily accessible not only to the Planning Department, but the public at large, via the online, user-friendly, mapping resource.

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