City of Peekskill

Groundbreaking for Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing Marks Milestone for City

Groundbreaking for Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing Marks Milestone for City

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Left to Right: Hudson Valley Regional Director Susan Spear, the Office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; Marissa Brett, Executive Director for Economic Development, The Westchester County Association; Kathleen Talbot, Councilwoman, City of Peekskill; Steve Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, Scenic Hudson; Mary Foster, Mayor of the City of Peekskill; Anthony Ruggiero, City Manager, City of Peekskill; John Testa, Westchester County Legislator, District 1.

After more than 15 years of planning, development, and securing funds, the City of Peekskill and Scenic Hudson officially broke ground Wednesday on the $3.6 million Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing, a now-vacant site adjacent to Riverfront Green Park and the city’s bustling Metro-North Railroad station. Officials say that Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing is destined to become a jewel in the city’s robust system of riverfront parks, which attract tens of thousands of visitors annually.

“Today signifies a major milestone for Peekskill and the beginning of a multi-year, multi-phase waterfront revitalization. Historically, Peekskill’s riverfront was alive with industrial and commercial activity, and now we have the opportunity to bring it back to life for residents and visitors with tourism and new business. This park helps the city fulfill its promise of making Peekskill a great place to live, work, visit, and enjoy,” said Mary F. Foster, mayor, City of Peekskill.

Mayor Foster also thanked Scenic Hudson, Empire State Development, and New York State’s Department of State, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Department of Environmental Conservation, for their support in developing Peekskill Landing.

Waterfront parks not only contribute powerfully to the region’s $4.3-billion tourism industry, but also promote a quality of life that attracts businesses to the region, said Scenic Hudson Senior Vice President, Steve Rosenberg.

“Scenic Hudson’s mission focuses on creating new places where people can connect with the Hudson River and enjoy all it has to offer. This is especially important in our Hudson River cities, where the greatest numbers of people are located. That’s why Scenic Hudson purchased the property from a developer in 1998 so it could be transformed from a neglected former industrial site into a public park that also provides economic benefits. Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing promises to be a wonderful asset for city residents and visitors,” said Mr. Rosenberg.

Peekskill officials have worked with New York State officials since 1998 to secure funding to get the waterfront redevelopment project off the ground. In 2010, extensive cleanup and shoreline stabilization was completed on Peekskill Landing with a $1.1 million grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.  Funding sources for the upcoming park construction include Empire State Development, New York’s economic development agency, which contributed $2.2 million; the New York State Department of State, $450,000; the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, $400,000; and the City of Peekskill, $583,000.

“The State’s investment in Peekskill is part of our mission to bolster the tourism industry and create jobs and economic growth in the Hudson Valley,” said Aimee Vargas, Mid-Hudson Regional Director, Empire State Development. “The revitalization of Peekskill’s waterfront, through the development of Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing, will improve the quality of life for the Peekskill community, attract more visitors to the area, and highlight the importance of parks and recreational facilities as economic engines in New York State.”

The project plan for Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing calls for the construction of a boardwalk along the City’s legendary Hudson River shoreline, a pedestrian footbridge, docks for kayaks and small watercraft, a gazebo and trellis, and multi-use trailways for jogging, biking, walking, and other outdoor activities. Amenities—like the installation of utilities and lighting, signage and trash receptacles, sculpture and extensive landscaping—are also included in the plan. All of these amenities dovetail with the city’s plan of expanding its vibrant waterfront district with additional restaurants, pubs, and businesses, as well as a host of recreational activities and watersports.

“We invite the public to come to our riverfront by boat, bike, car, foot, or by rail, and see all that Peekskill’s riverfront has to offer. Take in the spectacular view, partake in a multitude of activities, shop in our shops, dine in our many restaurants and pubs, and visit the downtown.  Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing will help make our outstanding riverfront even better,” said Mayor Foster.

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Peekskill Fares Well on Comptroller’s Stress Test

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Peekskill Remains on Strong Financial Footing as Reflected in Revised Stress Test Scores

Peekskill’s strong financial position was affirmed this week when New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s issued a revised version of the Fiscal Stress Test list first released on June 18. The fiscal monitoring system was established in 2012 to help municipalities throughout the State gain an objective analysis of their budgetary and financial position.

The system defines three levels of financial stress (Significant, Moderate and Susceptible), and includes a “no designation” category for municipalities facing no fiscal stress. Peekskill received a fiscal stress test score of 30.42 percent, indicating the city is not facing fiscal stress. The score is better than most similarly sized cities in the State.

“Peekskill is in good financial health,” said Mayor Mary Foster. “The city’s general Fund Balance is in line with the Comptroller’s Office benchmark of 20% and our operating deficits in 2011 and 2012 are substantially below the Comptroller’s Office measure for concern. By reducing costs and finding efficiencies, the Common Council and I have been building a stable financial foundation for the city and plan to have an operating surplus for 2013.”

The score reflects a slight change from the city’s initial grade of 24.2% said Craig Kinns, an official with the Division of Local Government and School Accountability in the State Comptroller’s Office. “We may make some adjustments based on updated information from a municipality or the resolution of outstanding questions,” he said.

The Comptroller’s monitoring system evaluates local governments on a variety of financial and environmental indicators including cash-on-hand, patterns of operating deficits, population trends, and tax assessment growth. A score over 45% indicates some level of fiscal distress. Municipalities with scores of 45% and under are not considered as being in any level of fiscal distress:

·      Significant Fiscal Stress (65% – 100%)

·      Moderate Fiscal Stress (55% – 64.9%)

·      Susceptible to Fiscal Stress (45% – 54.9%)

·      No designation (0% – 45%)

The state’s list is based on information provided by 1,000 municipal governments as of August 30, 2013 and covers only municipalities with fiscal years ending on December 31, 2012.

According to the Comptroller’s office, 38 municipalities across the state are experiencing some level of fiscal stress. The Comptroller’s report on Peekskill can be found here. The full report from the Comptroller’s Local Government and School Accountability office can be found here.

Peekskill City Showcase Reveals a Wealth of Opportunities

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The Peekskill City Showcase included a stop at the Riverfront Green Park to hear about the multi-million dollar waterfront revitalization. Photo: Lynda Shenkman Curtis.

For the 100 real estate professionals, investors, developers, site selectors, bankers and lawyers who may not have known about the wealth of development opportunities in Peekskill, the BLUEPRINT for Westchester’s Peekskill City Showcase was a real-eye opener.

The half-day event, organized by the Westchester County Association in collaboration with the City of Peekskill, included a tour featuring sites ripe for commercial and residential development, several city neighborhoods—including its two National Historic Registry areas—and Peekskill’s waterfront, currently undergoing a multi-million dollar revitalization.

“Today’s showcase is part of our aggressive campaign to drive economic development in Westchester,” said Marissa Brett, executive director of The BLUEPRINT for Westchester, the economic development arm of the Westchester County Association. “Peekskill is a gem of a city that offers pubic/private development opportunities, affordable places to live, access to transportation, arts and culture—a place where business and residents can truly  thrive.”

Two packed buses departed from the newly re-opened Paramount Hudson Valley Theater, with Mayor Mary Foster, Michael Welti, the city’s director of planning, and Jim Pinto, economic development consultant, serving as tour guides. The bus wound its way through downtown, highlighting Peekskill’s restaurant row, the Westchester Community College Center for the Digital Arts, and the Monument Park business area, home to a growing Latino business community.

Among the properties featured on the tour was the former White Plains Linen complex on Highland Avenue, the nearly 12-acre parcel on Corporate Drive and the Central Avenue Corridor, which the city would open for redevelopment consistent with its vision for connecting the city’s waterfront and downtown areas.

The midway point was a scenic stop at the Riverfront Green where city planners presented the vision for developing Peekskill’s stunning three miles of shoreline and Peekskill’s Homestyle Desserts Bakery provided visitors with refreshments. After stops along John Walsh Boulevard—home to the new IDA-backed facility for White Plains Linen, Peekskill’s largest employer, and Lower South Street, home to another significant employer, BASF—the tour buses headed back to the theater via South Street, which will see streetscape improvements in the near future.

Guests were treated to a luncheon catered by Birdsall House and Gleason’s during which keynote speaker Mayor Mary Foster shared her vision for the city.

Mayor Foster said Peekskill is becoming known as a “cultural hub,” a vibrant home not just for the literary and performing arts, museums, and entertainment venues, but as a place with unique shops and restaurants and one-of-a-kind businesses like Early Electrics, which makes unique lighting fixtures from old electrical equipment for hotels, restaurants, and workspaces.

“We have people who participate in a creative economy,” she said. “Our roots are in unique businesses—from a custom window restorer, to a maker of handcrafted smoking pipes and an oboe maker who has an eight-year waiting list for his instruments…We are ready to attract development that makes sense for Peekskill, a mix of businesses that creates jobs, maximizes land use, and helps our economy thrive.”

The city and state have invested heavily in Peekskill’s infrastructure in order to make the city “investment-ready,” added Mayor Foster, with projects including the modernization of Route 9, the completion of a water filtration plant, work on water and sewer mains, and the creation of concept plans for mixed use development.

Current business owners are inspiring investor confidence in Peekskill as well.  Six business owners are starting new enterprises, according to Jason Angell, executive director of the Peekskill BID (Business Improvement District), who delivered opening remarks along with Deborah Milone, Executive Director of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, and Kurt Heitman, CEO of Red House Entertainment, which operates the Paramount.

The BLUEPRINT for Westchester was launched in 2011 to spur economic development in Westchester, and has hosted three previous city showcases in Yonkers, White Plains, and New Rochelle, and an international showcase for attachés.

 

City of Peekskill Partners with Riverkeeper, MetroNorth to Clean 5.7 Tons of Trash From Travis Cove

Photo by: Gwendolyn Chambers / Riverkeeper

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Efforts Result in Readying Land for Riverfront Development

The combined efforts of Peekskill’s highway department, Metro North, Riverkeeper and a hard-working group of 75 volunteers from Peekskill and towns nearby resulted in the removal of 5.7 tons of trash plus 46 tires from Travis Cove, readying the site for the construction of a new pedestrian walkway along the shoreline that will connect Peekskill’s Riverfront Green and Charles Point parks and offer public access to that stretch of shoreline for the first time.

The path is part of the city’s multi-million dollar waterfront re-development project that will bring new uses and connectivity to Peekskill’s waterfront for the enjoyment of residents, businesses and visitors.

“We commend all of the volunteers, Riverkeeper, Metro North and Public Works Staff staff for their great work in preparing the area for our riverfront parks development,” said Anthony Ruggiero, Peekskill’s City Manager. “The cleanup was the first step toward public enjoyment of Travis Cove for years to come.”

Thanks to the efforts of Peekskill’s Department of Public Works staff and Zero to Go, a Beacon-based recycling business, the trash haul was separated and 46 percent was salvaged or recycled, according to Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper’s membership and events manager.

“In a word: Wow,” he said. “We want to thank Metro-North Railroad, which made accessing the shoreline safe, Peekskill and its amazing DPW staff, the incomparable Zero to Go, as well as the businesses and organizations that contributed. Most of all we want to thank the volunteers.”

Local businesses got into the game by offering rewards to those who came to clean up.

Peekskill Brewery provided cold beer and a place for volunteers to relax following their toil; Trinity Cruises offered a free Hudson River cruise from historic Peekskill; NYC Water Ski and Wakeboard School a free lesson; Keep Rockland Beautiful contributed materials and Bridgestone offered to recycle the tires at no charge.

Phase one of the waterfront re-development project, Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing, is set to begin this fall and calls for the construction of an elevated walkway along the City’s legendary Hudson shoreline, a pedestrian bridge, gazebo and trellis, and multi-use trailways for jogging, biking, walking, and other outdoor activities. Amenities, like the installation of utilities and lighting, signage and trash receptors, a drinking fountain, and concrete pads and landscaping, are also included in the plan.

Fifty miles north of Manhattan, The City of Peekskill is among the historic Hudson River towns in Westchester. Formerly one of New York’s manufacturing bases, Peekskill underwent economic revitalization in the 1990s. It is home today to many small businesses and medical facilities, as well as a thriving downtown hub that has attracted galleries, coffee houses, restaurants, and artists’ studios. The Paramount Theater is an important component of that hub. Visit www.cityofpeekskill.com for more information.

The City of Peekskill to Host Gun Buyback to Rid City of Illegal and Unwanted Firearms

Community-sourced Funds Raised for Cash-for-Guns Program to be held  Saturday, September 21, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Guns 1The City of Peekskill will give residents a chance to turn in unwanted, illegal, or illegally-possessed firearms at a no-questions-asked gun buyback event on Saturday, September 21 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the United Methodist Church at 1040 Main Street in Peekskill. It’s part of the city’s new Operation Safe Streets program, which aims to reduce the supply of illegal guns to criminals in partnership with the Peekskill community.

The gun buyback offers cash to individuals who turn in assault rifles, handguns, rifles and/or shotguns. Funds for payments were raised by the community through a series of fundraisers, said Peekskill Councilman Darren Rigger, who first suggested the program to city officials.

“After Newtown, many Peekskill residents began looking for a safe way to dispose of unwanted firearms in their homes,” he said.  “Peekskill’s gun buyback program not only addresses a community need, it is also fully funded by the community.”

The details on the buy-back are as follows:

  • Cash payments will be varied depending on the type of weapon: $100 for handguns; $200 for rifles/shotguns and $250 for assault rifles.
  • Weapons must be brought unloaded and in a case or holster if possible.
  • Active and retired law enforcement are ineligible to receive payment.
  • Legal, illegal, or illegally possessed firearms will qualify for the buyback program.
  • An illegal firearm is defined as any pistol, revolver, shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches, or a rifle having a barrel less than 16 inches, whose possession is in contrary to any section of the New York State Penal Law or Federal Statutes.

“This approach allows individuals to turn in guns anonymously at no cost to taxpayers. I hope every city resident, who wants to dispose of a firearm, will take advantage of this program,” said Rigger.

The first component of Operation Safe Streets, a confidential tip line launched in June, offers a $500 cash award to individuals who call (914) 468-4GUN and provide information that leads to the recovery of a weapon.

“The buyback event and the tip line are an important of our efforts to take deadly weapons out of circulation, said Eric Johansen, Chief of Police. “Together they represent the community working together with law enforcement on reducing gun violence in Peekskill, helping to make the city a great place to live, work, visit, and enjoy.”

Operation Safe Streets works in tandem with the city’s efforts toward attracting development downtown and along the waterfront, added Peekskill’s Mayor, Mary F. Foster. “From improved streetscapes to Riverfront development to plans for parks and trails, the city is on a path toward economic vitality. Reducing crime will help us maintain and accelerate Peekskill’s renaissance.”

All funds for this program were generated through asset forfeiture (from drug dealers) and community donations including a $1,000 donation from the Peekskill Rotary and $250 donations from the Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art, The Peekskill PBA, and the Peekskill Police Superior Officers Association.

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Fifty miles north of Manhattan, The City of Peekskill is among the historic Hudson River towns in Westchester. Formerly one of New York’s manufacturing bases, Peekskill underwent economic revitalization in the 1990s. It is home today to many small businesses and medical facilities, as well as a thriving downtown hub that has attracted galleries, coffee houses, restaurants, and artists’ studios. The Paramount Theater is an important component of that hub. Visit www.cityofpeekskill.com for more information.

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The City of Peekskill on Track to Break Ground for ‘Scenic Hudson Park’ With New Contractor, Con-Tech

Work is now underway at the site for 'Scenic Hudson Park' to prepare for construction.

Work is now underway at the site for ‘Scenic Hudson Park’ to prepare for construction.

Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing Represents the First Phase of the City’s $8 Million Waterfront Redevelopment Project and Will Break Ground in Early Fall

The City of Peekskill Common Council approved September 9 a new general contractor for Phase One of the city’s major waterfront redevelopment project, Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing. Con-Tech Construction Technology, Inc., of Yorktown Heights, NY, takes the lead after Eastern Excavation, Inc., notified city officials it wished to withdraw its bid following “mistakes” made in its proposal. In total, six contractors placed bids ranging from $4.3 million on the high end with Con-Tech submitting the second-lowest bid of $3.29 million. Project funding comes from a $3.5 million grant awarded by the Mid Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and Empire State Development.

“We’re thrilled to be moving forward with the project within our original timeframe and budget,” said Anthony Ruggiero, Peekskill’s City Manager. “Preparation is now underway to prepare the site for construction, bringing us one step closer to improving the city’s waterfront for the enjoyment of residents, businesses and visitors.”

The project, which includes an elevated walkway, pedestrian bridge, and multi-use trailways will bring new uses and connectivity to Peekskill’s waterfront. Since 1998, city officials have had to navigate a complex web of state and federal regulations—and a series of difficult funding gaps—to get the waterfront redevelopment project off the ground. Approvals are now in place and recent support from the Governor’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council helped get the ball rolling with funding.

“Con Tech comes highly recommended,” City Engineer Brent VanZandt informed the Common Council at Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting, noting that the New York State Department of Transportation reported they were pleased with the firm’s work on a recent complex project.

Peekskill Landing construction is expected to take approximately one year.

The project plan for Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing calls for the construction of an elevated walkway along the City’s legendary Hudson shoreline, a pedestrian bridge, gazebo and trellis, and multi-use trailways for jogging, biking, walking, and other outdoor activities. Amenities, like the installation of utilities and lighting, signage and trash receptors, a drinking fountain, and concrete pads and landscaping, are also included in the plan.

Fifty miles north of Manhattan, The City of Peekskill is among the historic Hudson River towns in Westchester. Formerly one of New York’s manufacturing bases, Peekskill underwent economic revitalization in the 1990s. It is home today to many small businesses and medical facilities, as well as a thriving downtown hub that has attracted galleries, coffee houses, restaurants, and artists’ studios. The Paramount Theater is an important component of that hub. Visit www.cityofpeekskill.com for more information.

City of Peekskill and Village of Brewster Jointly Seek State Funding for Economic Revitalization and Job Creation

INTER-MUNICIPAL PROJECT WOULD ESTABLISH PARTNERSHIP WITH WESTCHESTER COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND EXAMINE POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENT OF INCUBATOR SPACE AT FORMER WHITE PLAINS LINEN SITE

PARTS OF PEEKSKILL AND BREWSTER NAMED ‘OPPORTUNITY AREAS’ BY MID-HUDSON REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL

The former White Plains Linen site could become incubator space and provide a home for workforce training.  (Jean Friedman photo)

The former White Plains Linen site could become incubator space and provide a home for workforce training. (Jean Friedman photo)

Mary F. Foster, Mayor of the City of Peekskill, announced that the City formally submitted a joint grant application with the Village of Brewster to the Governor’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC) to fund a feasibility study about property to be redeveloped. In Peekskill, monies from the grant would jumpstart revitalization efforts at 407 and 427 Highland Avenue and 418 N. Division Street, the seven-building site vacated by White Plains Linen when it relocated to larger facilities within Peekskill in 2012. The City will study possible uses for the property, including the possible development of a business incubator and housing and activities for young professionals. Brewster will study its Main Street Corridor.

Mayor Foster also announced that sections of the City of Peekskill and Village of Brewster were selected as the 2013 Opportunity Areas in the Mid-Hudson Region by the MHREDC. This designation allows both to work collaboratively to compete for special grant funding from Empire State Development for economic revitalization and workforce development. Additionally, Westchester Community College is seeking MHREDC funding to implement workforce training in Peekskill and Brewster.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Peekskill,” said Mayor Foster. “The City envisions incubator space for emerging entrepreneurs and the development of a partnership for workforce development with Westchester Community College that will benefit Peekskill’s business community and underemployed and unemployed residents.”

With an emphasis on regional planning, the MHREDC chose to name the City of Peekskill and Village of Brewster as Opportunity Areas as both municipalities are looking to revitalize underused properties and are experiencing similar demographic changes.

“There was unanimous support on the Regional Council to create an Opportunity Area with Peekskill and Brewster to foster joint grant applications,” said Jonathan Drapkin, CEO of Pattern for Progress and member of the MHREDC. “Both municipalities wrote excellent applications and both share regional resources, changing demographics, and have the capacity to grow. They are truly representative of the region,” he added.

Developing Tomorrow’s Economy
Peekskill’s growing population stands to gain from a series of grants. “The City is already experiencing entrepreneurial investment from its minority communities and this trend will continue to escalate,” said Mayor Foster. “Peekskill has several successful women-owned and minority –owned businesses, ranging from professional and personal service firms, real estate development companies, and artist studios and galleries, to flourishing restaurants and retail establishments,” Mayor Foster added.

Grant funding would be applied to programming through Westchester Community College’s (WCC) FITT To Grow NY: Flexible Innovation Training and Technical Assistance Supporting Economic and Workforce Development program, providing English as a Second Language training and business support services. The college has also applied to the MHREDC for funding.

“Building on Governor Cuomo’s vision for regional economic development, the collaborative approach between Peekskill, Brewster, and WCC provides the right environment for revitalization and workforce development,” said Dr. Marsha Gordon, member of the MHREDC and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester. “I applaud Mayor Foster for aggressively pursuing this opportunity.”

Peekskill’s and Brewster’s joint application requests $100,000 in State grants ($70,000 for Peekskill and $30,000 for Brewster). If funded, Peekskill will match State grant funds of $60,000 in cash and $10,000 in-kind services. The grant application was submitted August 12, and City expects to hear back from the MHREDC by year’s end.