Mayor Flowers Delivers State of the City Address

POUGHKEEPSIE – City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Yvonne Flowers delivered her State of the City Address Tuesday, informing residents the city has put to rest a nearly decade-old financial deficit and has been focusing on key economic development and housing initiatives in the first few months of her administration.

Mayor Flowers said the city has “wiped out what once was a $13.2 million general fund deficit and now has developed a fund balance – major accomplishments for the city.”

She said the city has received positive outlooks from credit rating agencies for the first time in more than a decade, pointing out that this “long-term commitment to strategically improve the city’s finance ultimately will lower our costs when we want to borrow for capital projects.”

She thanked Finance Commissioner Dr. Brian Martinez and former Mayors Rob Rolison and Marc Nelson in particular for helping to achieve these goals.

As her time in office heads to the first 100 days, the mayor said she is focused on hiring a city administrator. She thanked Ron Knapp, who has been employed by the city for more than 49 years, for becoming the interim city administrator and for his “wealth of institutional knowledge and calming influence on the staff.”

The mayor said key staffers are working to centralize how the city will more aggressively go after grants, including monies from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other sources to fund capital projects and programs.

“Through these and other efforts,” Mayor Flowers said, “We can achieve more for the city and focus on building a stronger fund balance. This will provide the essential cushion the city needs to be a consistently stable government and to weather any financial turbulence the country may endure.”

Regarding economic development initiatives, Mayor Flowers said her administration is fully supportive of the efforts of some property owners to create a Downtown Business Improvement District, or BID. In this geographic area – which will include parts of Main Street and neighboring streets – property owners would be charged a special assessment to help promote and improve the business landscape.

“That could include maintaining clean and beautiful streets,” she said. “It could mean supporting a safe and secure downtown. It is intended to stimulate a business climate that will attract new development and commercial tenants. And it will foster unity among the business owners in the district.”

The initiative would need the support of the affected property owners in addition to the Common Council.

The mayor also announced the city and ESS Hospitality are in the midst of finalizing a license agreement for the operation of the dormant Ice House at Waryas Park, to be called “The Governess,” a gastropub that will feature a variety of American cuisine. ESS already has two established restaurants – “The Baroness” and “The Huntress,” both in Queens.

These establishments have a strong following, and ESS Hospitality has ambitious plans to tie their new Poughkeepsie location to many waterfront events, the mayor said.

Mayor Flowers said the city will move forward later this year on Requests for Proposals on the DeLaval site on the waterfront, adding “The site has been dormant for far too long. Paralysis must no longer persist. We believe compatible uses – including water-related recreational activities, an amphitheater, restaurants, stores, docks – would be key to bring everyone together in support of this once-in-a-lifetime development opportunity.”

Mayor Flowers also said the city is on the verge of making corresponding zoning updates following the approval of a new comprehensive plan in 2022 and will create a Housing Task Force to bring together people in key areas – tenants, landlords, developers, community housing partners, government officials and financial advisors – to focus on the housing needs in Poughkeepsie.

Earlier this year, the city was designated one of the state’s first “Pro-Housing Communities,” making it eligible to receive some of the $650 million in the program that gives priority consideration to the chosen localities.

“We intend to make the most of this opportunity,” the mayor said.

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