Sep 2009
Transit Oriented Development

Update :: Posted at the end of this news item is a revised draft the local law creating the new TOD zone including updated language to address the commercial units.

On August 3, 2009 there was a special city council meeting: The Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Informational Meeting.

The meeting featured a presentation on the proposed TOD District for the land surrounding the Railroad Station, including historic views of the area, recommended design principles, an illustrative sketch plan as one example of what it might look like, an analysis of how river views can be protected, and the public benefits of transit-oriented development.

Important related information has been posted on the city website:

Transit Oriented Development Informational Presentation
A slideshow presented by John Clarke of Dutchess County Planning and Development at the August 3, 2009 Transit Oriented Development Informational Meeting.

Video :: Transit Oriented Development Informational Meeting
A video recording of the full August 3, 2009 Transit Oriented Development Informational Meeting.

School Costs of Transit Oriented Development
A survey of comparable TODs prepared in March 2008 by Urbanomics for Edison Township in New Jersey and relevant to the proposed City of Beacon TOD. 
The survey identified 32 existing TOD districts most closely resembling the potential TOD from a comprehensive national database of 505 districts. Based on the number of school children living in these comparable districts, the analysis projected how many school aged children would be generated by the proposed TOD and the factors that would impact that number. The analysis indicates that the number of school aged children generated by such districts would be extremely low -- a projected 3 school aged children per 100 units (from a sample set with a low of 0 per 100 units and a high of 12).

TOD Local Law - Draft Sep 2009
A revised draft the local law creating the new TOD zone including updated language to address the commercial units. Includes a map.

Aug 2009
Committee Vacancies

If you are interested in serving on a City of Beacon committee, please complete the Committee Application Form and submit it to: Office of the Mayor, 1 Municipal Center, Beacon, New York 12508-2530.

Current committee vacancies:

Board of Assessment – Five Year
Term One – Unexpired Term – Term to Expire September, 2012
One – Vacancy – Term to Expire September, 2014

Board of Ethics – Five Year Term
Two – Vacancies – Expired

Human Relations Commission – Two Year Term
Five – Vacancies – Expire

Recreation Commission – Three Year
Unexpired Term – Term to Expire December, 2009 - Will continue with an additional three years expiring 12/31/12 
Unexpired Term – Term to Expire December, 2010


Aug 2009
Workshop to Empower Homeowners

Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 6:30pm
St. Joachim-St. John Church (corner of Verplank & Willow)

Discussion on refinancing options, loan modifications and dealing with the banks.

Light refreshments will be served.
Sponsored by the non-profit Housing Action Council.
RSVP to 914-332-4144.

Aug 2009
$412,000 CHIP Funds for Road Repaving

An update from Mayor Steve Gold:

Good news is hard to find these days so…. on behalf of the Beacon City Council I have some to communicate. At the last special council meeting on July 27th 2009 there was unanimous agreed to apply County funds earmarked exclusively for highway improvements (called CHIPS) to the following road resurfacing projects: (1) Spring Valley (Est.$72,000). (2) Wolcott from Sargent Ave to South Ave.(est.$80,000). (3) South Ave from Commerce to Rombout Ave. (est.$54,000). (4) Blackburn Ave. ($36,000). (5) Main St from South St. to the Cul de sac (est.$75,000).(6) Howland from E. Main to Wolcott (est. $95,000).

Fishkill and Teller Ave Update

Of course the road the entire city would like to be reconstructed is Teller Ave and Fishkill Ave (Route 52). Unfortunately the solution to that road is more complicated and the project is more expensive. It does not qualify for Federal stimulus money; however, the project, expected to cost approximately 5 million dollars, was to be 95% paid for by the Federal and State governments (all good). The most serious complication is that the city was informed there will be delays in the approval process because Federal and State resources are being applied to stimulus projects. Furthermore this delay may lead to less money being available than originally projected. A delay in approvals may even result in a loss of reimbursements for engineering costs. The original construction date was planned to begin in the spring of 2011. At this point the city cannot obtain any firm commitments from Federal and State agencies as to approval dates, available funds, or engineering reimbursements. One more point, CHIPS funding (described above) cannot be applied to a simple resurfacing of the road while we wait for full reconstruction.  I will keep you posted as more news becomes available.

Jul 2009
A survey of three area water systems

The Poughkeepsie Journal has published a survey of three area drinking water systems — Poughkeepsie, Amenia, and Beacon.

The Beacon plant serves 19,000 people and has more than 4,500 metered accounts.

The computer monitored plant has three surface sources for its water (Cargill, Mount Beacon and Melzingah reservoirs) and three ground water sources (Beacon Wells 1 & 2 and the leased Village of Fishkill Well 8 for emergencies).

Well water, usually only one well at any given time, is pumped from the ground into the service lines from reservoirs. That blending gives the city water the right amount of hardness.

"The dilution is such that it improves the quality of the water," Superintendent James McCullum said, adding generally no softening agents are required.

Read the full article by Michael Woyto.

The City of Beacon annual water quality reports are posted by the Water and Sewer Department.

Jul 2009
Special City Council Meetings

An open letter from Mayor Steve Gold:

There are several important items the City Council is considering that the public should be informed about. They have to do with waterfront and Fishkill Creek developments.

On Monday July 27th at a Special City Council Meeting, I anticipate that the Council will set a public hearing date of August 17th for three items: (1) Zoning to accommodate the Transit-Oriented Development at the waterfront. (2) Zoning for property north of the train station known as Edgewater. (3) Beacon’s first Affordable Housing local law.

Also during the workshop section of the July 27th meeting the council will be discussing zoning for residential and commercial development on the Fishkill Creek, and an accompanying greenway trail. (See for the agenda and copies of zoning regulations).

The Council meeting of August 3rd will be limited to a special community information forum. The meeting will be filmed and shown on the city’s website and channel 22. On behalf of Beacon, John Clarke, Senior Planner for the Dutchess County Department of Planning will present a new PowerPoint to the public regarding the proposed Transit-Oriented Development District. It will include information about the land surrounding the Railroad Station, include historic views of the area, describe design principles that have been incorporated into the TOD zone legislation, an illustrative sketch plan as one example of what the transit-oriented development might look like, an analysis of how river views can be protected, and the public benefits of transit-oriented development. The public is invited to join in to ask questions and make statements although the first official public hearing may be August 17th. The council wants to learn your viewpoints before it will make its decisions.

As your Mayor I want to make one observation that relates to these zoning regulations. The city must find a more sustainable method to balance its budget than our current unhealthy dependence on sales tax related revenues. The effects of the economic downturn on sales tax revenue led to financial difficulties for Beacon last year and the 2010 budget is projected to have even more serious consequences. One way to stabilize revenue is to add to our residential housing stock using smart growth principles. The developments that we are considering on the water front and the Fishkill Creek will do that. They represent a low cost for Beacon to provide services (including schools) than single family homes on large lots. That is why these developments are recommended by the city’s new Comprehensive Plan. The density and location of Beacon’s transit-oriented development is environmentally positive and supported by Scenic Hudson Land Trust. It is also why in a July 10th editorial the Poughkeepsie Journal wrote “the blueprints are there (in Beacon) for sound growth”.

We’ve already protected the city from over development by limiting density in our existing residential neighborhoods and by creating new parklands. Now we are focusing on undeveloped areas the areas where residential and commercial units can provide a measure of financial sustainability and add to our Main Street business vitality. Extensive long term professional traffic studies conducted by the city have yielded favorable results. Undoubtedly these developments will change the look of our waterfront and creek. It is for us all to contemplate if that change will be for the better. We should all keep an open mind as these discussions unfold.

This letter is also posted to Beacon Citizen Network.

Jul 2009
$3 million grant for Long Dock park

The Empire State Development Corporation has approved grants totaling nearly $16.3 million, pledging to retain 699 existing jobs and create more than 271 new jobs in New York State. ESD is New York State's lead economic development agency.

The non-profit Scenic Hudson Land Trust has been awarded a capital grant of $3 million to assist in the design and construction costs for the development of a 12-acre public park. The park is part of the Long Dock project which also includes a 166-room hotel and conference center on a formerly scarred industrial site along the Hudson River. The total budget for the park project is nearly $6.5 million.

In accordance with the Land Trust’s mission of safeguarding irreplaceable landscapes and reclaiming neglected waterfront sites, the park will offer recreational and educational opportunities, such as kayaking and an informational trail, while preserving the native beauty of the wetlands.

Reported by Mid-Hudson News.

Jul 2009
Beacon has vision, but faces fiscal hurdles

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that last year Beacon officials made a startling discovery: For about 12 years, it was using an incorrect formula to compute the tax rate for businesses.

NY state law limits the relative tax burden that can be placed on businesses. The miscalculation of the homestead tax option caused an overtax to Beacon businesses that ranged from $300,000 to $600,000 a year. Mayor Steve Gold, who started serving his term in 2008, has worked with a new administration team to remedy this situation.

Beacon is moving forward, tackling this and other tough economic problems due to lagging mortgage and sales tax revenue during the recession. The projected shortfall for 2009 will mostly be covered by unexpended money from other parts of the budget and through collection of delinquent taxes. The city could be facing a much larger deficit in 2010 unless the economy rebounds.

Like nearly every municipality, Beacon has been hurt by the recession and significant projects are delayed. But the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater headquarters are moving to the former USC site, Scenic Hudson has secured a $3 million grant for developing Long Dock park, and Beacon continues to position itself as an environmentally progressive and vibrant arts community.

Read the full article.

Jul 2009
$50,000 NEA grant for Dia

The National Endowment for the Arts awarded 630 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Direct Grants totalling nearly $30 million. The grants were awarded to nonprofit arts organizations to support the preservation of jobs that are threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn.

The Dia Art Foundation was awarded a $50,000 grant. Dia:Beacon is the primary exhinit space of the foundation's contemporary art collection.

Reported by Artnet News under the title The NEA's Totally Random Stimulous Funds. As the title suggests, the editors at Artnet express frustration and confusion regarding the allocation of funds though they applaud the grants for arts organization confronting hard economic issues.

Jul 2009
Day trips to satisfy your art and travel bugs

Time Out New York has again featured Dia:Beacon as an ideal day trip for exploring art. For those of us who live in Beacon, the seven other art trips in their survey are worth exploring — especially The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.

Read the complete survey.