Common Council Unveils Rebirth of “Central Park”

By Madison Langweil

POUGHKEEPSIE – The City of Poughkeepsie Common Council held a virtual meeting over Zoom on Monday, May 3, regarding updates on the Southern Waterfront Redevelopment Task Force and the Eastman Park Oval.

The Southern Waterfront Redevelopment Task Force aims to foster and facilitate an accessible waterfront for the public to enjoy with participation from the community. Sarah Brannen, Council Member, highlighted the goals and timeline the task force will be focusing on.

“We are on a really tight timeframe for this task force, it’s only 90 days,” said Brennan. “We are supposed to be delivering to the council short-term recommendations for public access. We have a sub-group working on that including myself.”

Contributors such as Naomi Brookes, landscape designer, will be involved in the project while the task force hopes to “circulate some draft recommendations within the next week or two on short-term access to the site and safety measures and protocols and things like that,” Brennan said.

Their next meeting will be this coming Thursday, May 6, that will have unlimited public commentary and will have nonprofit organizations Scenic Hudson and Project for Public Spaces to provide best practices for waterfront development.

Following the public hearing in April regarding the proposal in making the Eastman Park Oval a historic landmark. Evan Menist, Council Member, described the beautiful park property as the “Central Park” of the City of Poughkeepsie.

“The oval itself which is a walking path around the property was once meant for anyone in the City of Poughkeepsie to walk around on property that was privately owned,” he said. “[A] truly beautiful place for people of the City of Poughkeepsie to congregate, to go for walks, and just enjoy the beautiful nature.”

The history that the oval has “deserves to be preserved here in the City of Poughkeepsie and truly deserves to be restored,” Menist said. “If we are able to provide funding one day to restore some of those trees, restore some of those garden beds, restore some more portions of that park that made it such an attractive place for people to go and take walks and have community events.”

The Oval has many elements to it that have made it an attractive, historical and welcoming place for community members, which the council is excited to see.

Before the conclusion of the meeting, Natasha Cherry, Council Member, expressed interest in developing a new Charter Commission that will take the time to look over the entire charter.

In light of all concerns and topics discussed during the meeting, Council Member Matt McNamara said, to take action rather than be reactionary.

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