Historic Preservation

 

80% of all construction in the United States occurred after the 1950’s

In Poughkeepsie, Alexander Hamilton ratified the Constitution, Frederick Douglas stumped for Senator Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign, Harvey Eastman dared to believe in a bridge whose engineering would stun the world, and FDR thrilled thousands with electrifying election night speeches delivered from the balcony of the Nelson House Hotel on Market Street. 

This is our heritage.  The stories of our achievements and our failures, our victories and our losses are who we are. It is our responsibility to preserve this rich legacy, especially as it is embodied in the buildings we pass every day.  Despite the mass demolitions that occurred during the City’s urban renewal years, and the demolition by neglect going on right now—Poughkeepsie still has a significant inventory of historic buildings. But too many are in decline. 

The Union Street Historic District, especially attractive for its walkability, has sidewalks that are among the worst in the city.  The nearby Garfield-Academy Street corridor, filled with many of Poughkeepsie’s most historic and renowned homes, faces significant preservation challenges that present an ongoing threat to this treasured area of the city. 

Here’s how we keep our historic homes around for future generations to cherish. 

Under my administration, the City will create a Rehabilitation Fund for low income homeowners.  Monies in the Fund will be used to rehabilitate historic homes to current building codes using appropriate building materials.  A portion of the fees charged for building permits and other real estate related transactions will be the funding source for the Rehabilitation Fund.  No tax dollars will be used for the fund. 

Because roughly 80% of all construction in the United States occurred after the 1950’s, Poughkeepsie’s historic building stock sets us apart.  Our rich architectural heritage combined with our strong links to important chapters in Colonial, Civil War and Victorian era history make Poughkeepsie the natural capital of the region and should invite sustainable development that respects our heritage and adds value to the community. 

Healthy communities treasure the buildings that make them unique, and with that sense of unique identity comes community pride and self-respect.  New development must sensitively fit into this context. If a developer wants to bring in a bland, cookie cutter building with no thought given to our special character, then we say no.  If, however, an investor wants to add to the rich landscape of our city with one eye looking at where we’ve come from, and the other looking ahead—then we work together. 

When we take ownership of history and allow it to inform our future ambitions, we can attract the type of job creating investment that will allow families to grow with the City of Poughkeepsie.  Paired with our Rent-To-Own, tax stabilization plan, the Neighborhood Rehabilitation Fund will make our families a partner in preserving our most valuable historic resources for future generations. 

My plan for Career Readiness Partnerships will allow Poughkeepsie’s young people to compete for the high-paying jobs that are already right here in Poughkeepsie and ultimately grow into home ownership in our most attractive neighborhoods—historic ones.  These successes will ease the burden of steadily increasing property taxes currently weighing on our families. When the city takes a neighborhood rehabilitation approach, we will see a growing tax base, improving property values and a much better ability to attract and retain families who want to live in a city that values historic character and strong, healthy neighborhoods.