May 11, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Andrea Reynolds, Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, 845-452-3077
Megan Pierce, United Way of Dutchess County, 845-471-1900 x 115
Kent Gardner, Center for Governmental Research, 585-466-4273
Steve Densmore, Dyson Foundation, 845-234-8713
Mid-Hudson Valley Community Profiles Website Launched
Site Provides Insights into Trends, Needs in Dutchess, Orange, Ulster Counties
POUGHKEEPSIE—Center for Governmental Research (CGR) President and CEO Kent Gardner today unveiled the Mid-Hudson Valley Community Profiles Website, a new source of in depth, comparative information about Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster counties that will provide government agencies and nonprofits throughout the region with an important new tool for assessing and understanding the populations they serve. The website, located at www.mhvcommunityprofiles.org, is available to the public and will be consistently updated with new data over the next five years.
During a press conference held at Marist College’s Admissions Auditorium on Wednesday morning, Mr. Gardner demonstrated how to navigate the site, discussed how it will prove useful to various organizations, and pointed out some interesting trends found within the comparative data.
“Good information doesn’t save lives or revitalize communities—but without it, public policy and private philanthropy can’t be effective,” said Mr. Gardner. “We’re pleased to have partnered with the Dyson Foundation, the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, and United Way of Dutchess County in the creation of this information resource. We hope that community nonprofits and the public sector will find that this website stimulates dialogue about needs, and cooperation around goals, policies and programs.”
Non-profit and government leaders from the three counties also attended the press conference. They included Jacki Brownstein, Executive Director of Mental Health America Dutchess County; Kevin White, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh; and Michael Berg, Executive Director of Family of Woodstock. Each delivered brief remarks about the important role the new site will provide for service providers operating in Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster counties. Organizers planned a series of workshops in each of the three counties to introduce the new website to nonprofit and government agency representatives.
The Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, the Dyson Foundation, and United Way of Dutchess County jointly committed $300,000 over the next five years in order to commission CGR to create and maintain the new website. The three organizations, with input from local health and human service providers, selected 50 indicators within the following fields to be represented on the site: children and youth, community engagement, demographics, economy, education, financial stability, health, and housing.
“We are very excited to launch this website, which makes a great deal of regional data and analysis easily available to the public,” said Michell Speight, Director of Programs for the Dyson Foundation. “We believe that access to this indicator data, and the ability to make comparisons within the region, will be useful to a variety of nonprofits, businesses, government agencies, and individuals. We look forward to seeing how it’s put to use in the coming months.”
“The Community Foundation is pleased to join the Dyson Foundation and United Way on this significant project. Through our support of the Community Profiles Web site, we will provide organizations the ability to track community conditions, develop programs and affect change that will contribute to the well-being of citizens in the Hudson Valley,” said Andrea L. Reynolds, President and CEO of the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley.
“We are delighted to have worked the Dyson Foundation, the Community Foundations and CGR to make this information available to our community, nonprofit partners and residents,” said Sheila Appel, Board Chair of United Way of Dutchess County. “Knowing more about our area will help us make use of our strengths and address areas for growth which will improve lives.”
The website includes the following features:
- One regional profile website that includes charts, data tables, and analysis of the three-county region (Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster).
- Three separate community profile websites (Dutchess, Orange and Ulster) that include charts, data tables, and analysis specific to the individual county with comparisons to the region.
- Four complete community profiles (region, plus three individual county profiles) based upon a consistent set of 50 indicators.
- Key Trends analysis for the eight main fields (e.g. education) for each of the four community profile websites.
- Summary Report compiling key trends for each of the four profile websites.
- Demographic indicators, including total population, age of population, population by race and ethnicity, and household type, for each of the four profile websites.
- Regular updating of indicator data, charts, and analysis, as well as county and regional summaries.
The Dyson Foundation has teamed with CGR on important community-based research projects in the past. In 2009, the Foundation commissioned CGR to conduct a review and analysis of salaries and benefits for Dutchess County legislators and executive staff. In 2005, CGR received a grant to conduct the Mid-Hudson Valley Nonprofit Economic Impact Study.
Many cities and regions around the country have similar community indicator projects and CGR has developed and maintains such projects for other communities such as Rochester and Herkimer-Oneida counties.
The Center for Governmental Research (CGR) (www.cgr.org) was founded in 1915 by George Eastman as a bureau of municipal research in Rochester NY to serve as an “independent, non-partisan agency for keeping citizens informed.” Today as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with offices in Rochester and Albany, CGR’s activities focus on issues that affect the quality of life in communities both inside and outside of New York State.
United Way of Dutchess County
United Way of Dutchess County is one of the area’s premier community-impact organizations, serving as a resource and convener to help increase community capacity to meet community needs. Its mission is to build a stronger, healthier community by raising resources and developing partnerships to make a measurable difference in people’s lives. More than 50,000 county residents each year rely on a United Way funded program, partnership or initiative for assistance. For more information visit www.unitedwaydutchess.org.
Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley—Serving Dutchess, Ulster and Putnam Counties
Established in 1969, the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley is your first resource for everything charitable. Currently, the Foundation administers more than 495 charitable funds established by donors who primarily live in Dutchess, Putnam and Ulster counties. Since the Foundation’s inception, more than $16 million in grants and scholarships has been awarded to our community. For more information about the Community Foundation call 845-452-3077 or visit www.cfhvny.org.
The Dyson Foundation
The Dyson Foundation is a private grant making foundation headquartered in Dutchess County and directed by the Dyson family under the leadership of Foundation President Robert R. Dyson. The Dyson Foundation's mission is to improve and enhance the quality of life in the region for all of its residents, especially those most vulnerable or economically disadvantaged. For more information visit www.dysonfoundation.org.
POUGHKEEPSIE—Three of the Mid-Hudson Valley’s leading philanthropic organizations have commissioned the respected Center for Government Research (CGR) to create a website that will host comparative information about Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster counties, providing government and nonprofits throughout the region with an important new tool for assessing and understanding the populations they serve.
The Dyson Foundation, United Way of Dutchess County, and the Community Foundation serving Dutchess, Ulster, and Putnam Counties announced this week that they will jointly commit up to $54,000 per year for the next five years in order to commission CGR to create and maintain the new website, which should become operational early in 2011. The three organizations, with input from local health and human service providers, selected 50 indicators within the following fields to be represented on the site: children and youth, community engagement, demographics, education, financial self-sufficiency, and culture/tourism.
“This innovative new website will provide an apples-to-apples understanding of regional trends and comparative information that has been difficult to obtain in the past because of variations in how each county reports certain types of information,” said Michell Speight, Program Director for the Dyson Foundation. “We are pleased to be collaborating with the Community Foundation and the United Way to offer this service, particularly because this has been a goal of many of Dutchess County’s human services agencies for several years.”
“The Community Foundation is pleased to join the Dyson Foundation and United Way on this significant project. Through our support of the Community Indicators website, we will provide organizations the ability to track community conditions, develop programs and affect change that will contribute to the well-being of citizens in the Hudson Valley,” said Andrea Reynolds, President of the Community Foundation serving Dutchess, Ulster and Putnam counties.
“Along with the Dyson Foundation, the Community Foundation and CGR we are pleased to bring this information to the community, nonprofit partners and residents,” said Anne M. Beaulieu, CEO and President of United Way of Dutchess County. “Knowing more about our area will help us celebrate and make use of our strengths and address areas for growth. Working together – collaboratively – nonprofits, government and other sectors will improve lives.”
One regional profile website that will include charts, data tables, and analysis of the three-county region (Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster).
Three separate community profile websites (Dutchess, Orange and Ulster) to include charts, data tables, and analysis specific to the individual county with comparisons to the region.
Four complete community profiles (region, plus three individual county profiles) based upon a consistent set of 50 indicators.
Key Trends analysis for the six main fields (e.g. education) for each of the four community profile websites.
Summary Report compiling key trends for each of the four profile websites.
Demographic indicators, including total population, age of population, population by race and ethnicity, and household type, for each of the four profile websites.
Regular updating of indicator data, charts, and analysis, as well as county and regional summaries.
Dyson Foundation Financing $1.5 Million Engineering Study
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Walkway Over the Hudson
Bergmann Associates Inc.
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
The Dyson Foundation
MILLBROOK—The Dyson Foundation will fund a $1.5 million engineering and design study that will serve as the first critical step in the plan to transform the former Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge into a lofty pedestrian park spanning the Hudson River.
The grant will allow Walkway Over the Hudson, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving and converting the historic bridge into a public park, to “fast-track” the project in hopes of finishing it in time for the 2009 Henry Hudson Quadricentennial celebration.
“As much as the Golden Gate Bridge defines San Francisco, we believe this historically significant and visually stunning pedestrian walkway will someday define the Hudson River Valley,” said Robert R. Dyson, president of the Millbrook-based Dyson Foundation. “With this grant, we look forward to forging a private-public partnership between various levels of government, local non-profits and the private sector, which will be the only way to bring Walkway Over the Hudson’s long held dream a step closer to reality.”
Walkway Over the Hudson Chairman Fred Schaeffer said securing the funding adds significant momentum and credibility to his group’s nearly 12-year effort to turn the abandoned railroad bridge into what would become the world’s longest elevated pedestrian walkway, soaring 212 feet above the Hudson River.
“The Dyson Foundation is providing a tremendous service to the community because this will be great for the entire Hudson Valley. It will help the economy by providing an attraction that will draw tourism from throughout the world,” Schaeffer said. “Once it’s refurbished, it will be able to accommodate walking, jogging, biking, rollerblading, picnicking and just daydreaming. The views from up there are breathtaking.”
"This will be a wonderful park," said Carol Ash, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, pledging to work with the coalition of interested parties toward the goal of making the pedestrian walkway a public park. "I am enthused by this project and I look forward to working with the Dyson Foundation, our colleagues in government and Walkway Over the Hudson to make it a reality."
Walkway Over the Hudson has already secured nearly $1 million in promised funding from federal and state sources that will eventually help pay for construction costs, Schaeffer said. A total budget for the project will be determined by the planning and engineering study.
The $1.5 million grant will pay for comprehensive project management, planning and engineering services to be conducted by Bergmann Associates Inc., an Albany-based engineering and architectural firm with a proven track record in the inspection and rehabilitation of historic bridges. Peter Melewski, project manager and a principal with Bergmann, was formerly in charge of all engineering design for the New York State Thruway Authority.
“We’re aiming at a very aggressive schedule,” said Melewski, explaining that the Dyson Foundation grant allows his firm to immediately begin a comprehensive assessment of the bridge’s maintenance needs and alternatives for adaptation to its proposed use as a pedestrian walkway. Initial inspections last fall by Bergmann team divers indicated that the bridge’s massive underwater foundations were more than up to the task ahead.
“We will assess its maintenance needs and its current capacity, but we feel the bridge is more than adequate for the proposed purpose,” Melewski added. “Our schedule is ambitious, but it’s doable as long as there’s support and coordination among the stakeholders.”
Under the current timeline, Bergmann Associates aims to complete bidding documents by the summer of 2008 and commence construction by next fall in order to meet the Fall, 2009 deadline. (The actual commemoration of explorer Henry Hudson’s fateful journey up the Hudson River will occur in September, 2009—400 years after the Dutch adventurer actually sailed up the Hudson River Valley and deep into the heart of the New World.)
When it was completed in 1888, the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge was the longest bridge in the world. A 6,767-foot engineering marvel, it was the first Hudson River bridge to be built between Albany and New York City, opening a new vein of commerce between New England and the Western states. In 1974, a fire sealed its demise as a railroad bridge and it went unattended until the mid-1990s when Walkway Over the Hudson commenced its grassroots preservation effort.
Established in 1957, the Dyson Foundation is a private, family-directed grantmaking foundation led by Robert R. Dyson, who has served as the Foundation’s President since 2000. Headquartered in Millbrook, the Foundation awards grants through a diverse regional funding program serving the Mid-Hudson Valley. The Foundation’s assets stand at approximately $337 million and, in 2006, it awarded grants in excess of $18.4 million.
For more information about this press release, contact:
Fred Schaeffer, Chairman, Walkway Over the Hudson
845-518-6071 or 845-454-1190
Peter Melewski, Project Manager & Principal, Bergmann Associates Inc.
Eileen Larrabee, Director of Communications, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Stephen Densmore, Press Liaison, The Dyson Foundation
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