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Beacon City Council Passess Resolution to Keep Stony Kill Open

Dear readers,

The following resolution was passed unanimously by the Beacon City Council on Monday night April 6, 2010. I informed the Stony Kill representative of the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Albany Legislative Aid to the Senate and Assembly. This resolution will be sent to all Beacon, Fishkill and Wappingers state elected officials and the Governor. I was personally motivated to author the text after years of enjoying and appreciating Stony Kill and listening to the intensity of the City Council at the workshop the previous week.

Steve Gold, Mayor


RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF KEEPING THE STONY KILL FARM ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATIONAL CENTER OPEN TO THE PUBLIC



WHEREAS, Stony Kill Farm Environmental Educational Center (“Stony Kill”) is dedicated to
enhancing environmental awareness and appreciation of the natural world in a facility
that includes over 1,000 acres of rolling country side, farmland, ponds,
woodlands, meadows, cultivated fields, and fallow fields; and



WHEREAS, facilities at Stony Kill include


1.The (Verplanck) Manor House finished in 1842. The Manor
House functions as a visitor center with offices for staff, reference library,
exhibit room and restrooms. The area around the Manor House includes a
perennial garden, herb garden, picnic tables, a large corn field, a large
grazing field for farmyard animals, trail head, and parking. The gardens are
maintained by the Verplanck Garden Club, Inc;


2.A newly constructed green designed Visitor Center which features enhances
programming in a dividable 80 person multipurpose room and supporting
accessible restrooms, kitchenette, lobby and wrap-around porch;


3.A 19th Century barn which houses beef cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens. Also inside the barn is a classroom used for education programs, events and as meeting space for other organizations. The
barn and animals are an important teaching tool for the education programs
offered to thousands of people who visit Stony Kill Farm throughout the year;


4.The Tenant Farm House, which is on the National Register for Historical Buildings.
The south-east portion dates back to the late 1600s-1700s;


5.An 18th Century Dutch stone house; and


6.Other features and building include a greenhouse, workshop, comfort station, pond,
picnic area, and community and raised bed garden plots. The community garden
plots are leased seasonally through the Stony Kill Foundation, Inc., and the
raised bed gardens are for people with disabilities and obtained through the
Verplanck Garden Club, Inc; and


WHEREAS, Stony Kill programs provide a unique educational experience that includes a year-round program for children, adults, educators, scouts, groups and the general public. Topics include
natural history, plants, animals, and natural resources. Instructors guide
groups in grades 1-6 groups through ecology lessons in forest and wildlife,
insect and pond life and agriculture. Pre-K and kindergarten school programs
conducted throughout the year. In order to meet the needs of local Girl Scouts
and Boy Scouts, Stony Kill Farm educators have designed hands-on activities and
programs focusing on ecology, wildlife, forestry and the world of the outdoors
to enable scouts to earn specific badges during our programs; and


WHEREAS, the Stony Kill provides a maintained trail system with trails of a variety of lengths through a number of habitats: woodland, thickets, fields, pond and marsh. Forested by hardwoods, it
has become home to an abundance of wildlife that include the barred owl,
red-tailed hawk, garter snake, the eastern gray squirrel, songbirds and other
wildlife like the bob-cat. The trail system includes: The Woodland Trail, a 1
mile ADA Accessible Trail, The Verplanck Trail, 1.5 miles, The Sierra Trail, 2
miles, The Freedom Trial 2.5 miles and The Muller Pond Trail .5 miles; and


WHEREAS, the agreement between the generous Verplanck family and the State of New York requires that Stony Kill be perated as an agricultural farm and if it is not used for that purpose for one
year, it will revert to the Verplanck family and no longer be open to the
public for farming, planting, hiking, recreation education or any public use.


NOW, THEREFOR, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council of the City of Beacon does herby declare its strong and unwavering demand that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Legislature of the State of New York, The Senate of the State of New York and the Honorable Governor of the State of New York fully fund the Stony Kill Environmental Center and all of its programs and facility maintenance and use every effort to continue funding agriculture to the degree necessary to keep the center in the control of the DEC and not revert to the Verplanck family.


-end-


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Comment by Kevin Byrne on April 19, 2010 at 11:30pm
The money the DEC will save by this closing is tiny- something like $60,000, the programming they do is great, serves a lot of folks well, and leverages a lot of volunteer effort, including Verplank garden club, Common ground farm and the Stonykill Foundation. Will they let the cows and sheep fend for themselves? What am i going to tell my child has happened to them?
Comment by Ally on April 11, 2010 at 10:44pm
Well gee we could always start looking at the paychecks and funds flow to the pockets of our officials and start questioning why so much of our funds go there and how unbalanced it is, but I suppose that would be asking too much. Yes it's terrible for us to assume that our officials could actually get paid more modest paycheck closer to the average of those in our society, so that the many could be taken care of. Yes assuming such things would make our country terrible.

This place gives me hope. Closing Stony Farm is pointless when there could be better ways to reduce the budget. Perhaps for example instead of paying for stadiums for sports teams it could go to the people. I might also add that these stadiums that the state budget forks funds to, the average individual couldn't afford a ticket to see a game. Stony Farm and the many activities it provides helped me out when I was despondent, depressed and felt like with how much fail our economy is there was nothing out there, no hope. So pardon us for wanting to save something so lovely
Comment by Ben Royce on April 11, 2010 at 9:44pm
Mary Fris:

funding Stony Kill is not only drops in the ocean of New York States budget, but drops in the budget of the DEC. Someone has decided Stony Kill is not a big deal, someone probably who, like the rest of the DEC, has its eyes magalomaniacally fixated on the Adirondacks. While the Adirondacks is a wonderful park, it could suck up a little less funds, inconveniencing only a handful of people, and thereby refunding Stony Kill, which is used heavily in a densely populated part of the state, especially by hundreds of our children.

Frankly, why and how Stony Kill made it onto the chopping block and not hundreds of other DEC programs that are utilized by far less people is a mystery. Furthermore, that Albany should ignore the concerns of so many of us who are incensed at Stony Kill's potential closing is not something us voters will forget come November.

Mary: the amount of money spent on Stony Kill and the utilization that is received from that amount is an amazing bang for a tiny amount of buck, and it would therefore be silly to defund Stony Kill, not least of the reasons being that the Verplanck family stipulated the state will lose ownership of the land if the state discontinues its use as a farm. Is it that you would you rather see more suburban stripmalls and mcmansions at the Stony Kill site instead?

Finally, you seem angry about taxes and deficits, which is obviously an important issue, but a much huger issue than a tiny, cheap park that is dear to the hearts of the people who live around here. I share your concerns about taxes and deficits, but asserting that concern in an infinitesimal budget item like Stony Kill is simply obtuse of you. You sould worry about such things as the hidden books of the MTA and other corrupt outrages of Albany. There are orders of magnitude more money being sucked up for completely unjustifiable expenses by truly corrupt slimeballs in Albany that you have every right to be purplefaced about... but not tiny Stony Kill. I suggest you focus your righteous anger on Albany's fatcats, and not be part of the voices that would make tiny Stony Kill an unjustifiable casualty in the budget crisis.
Comment by Mary Fris on April 9, 2010 at 9:02pm
Hello! Does anyone know out there that the state is $9 billion short? Yes, this and that programs are very VERY important and so we can't POSSIBLY live without them, so don't cut ANYTHING and keep raising our taxes ad nauseum and we can all go back to burying our heads in the sand. Sorry to disappoint you folks, but we can't continue to pay for everything with AIR, as much as we'd like to. I applaud Patterson for telling it like it is, although its political suicide...
Comment by Henry on April 9, 2010 at 11:35am
Does anyone expect this to persuade Patterson to keep funding Stony Kill?

I hope so. It would be a devastating loss to our community.
Comment by Sonia Roy on April 8, 2010 at 10:27pm
Thank you!
Stony Kill is one of the jewels of the Hudson Valley and one of the reasons our life is so great here in Beacon. It would be a devastating loss to our kids if we lost access to it.
Comment by Ben Royce on April 7, 2010 at 10:16am
thanks steve, thanks city council ;-)

its most important for the kids. our children need stony kill open

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