As many of you might have noticed, two years of pandemic have brought a lot of new people to Gardiner, attracted by the natural beauty and open spaces of our area. While a growing population brings new energy and dollars to the area, careful planning is needed to avoid challenges associated with this growth and to preserve our town’s rural character. To that end, Gardiner has undertaken a project that will help to protect our water resources, farms, wildlife habitats, historic properties, and scenic views for the future. A group of volunteers, with representation from the Environmental Conservation Commission, Open Space Commission, Parks and Recreation, Planning Board, farmers, and residents, came together in early February to form the Community Preservation Plan Committee. Working with a professional planner, the Committee is developing a Community Preservation Plan (CPP) which will provide a method for setting priorities for places that need protection.
In preparing the CPP, the Committee is drawing from existing plans and inventories of natural and historic resources, as well as other sources of GIS data for our region. In April, they also conducted a community survey to gather information and views from residents. The final draft of the Community Preservation Plan is scheduled to be presented to the Town Board in early June.
If the Plan is adopted by the Town Board, the next step in the process would be to set up a Community Preservation Fund (CPF) that would pay for conservation easements on properties identified in the Plan. The money accumulated in the CPF would provide a steady funding source for preserving and improving our community’s character and quality of life without burdening the residents with another tax.
Other Hudson Valley towns that have implemented a Community Preservation Plan and Fund have reported incredible results. Warwick has had a CPP/CPF in place since 2007, and to date the Fund has purchased the development rights on 43 farms totaling 4,400 acres. Supervisor Michael Sweeton says the program has been “wildly successful”, and that it “has only increased home values and made Warwick more [of] a place people want to come to…” The Town of Red Hook has had a CPP/CPF in place for over a decade and according to Supervisor Robert McKeon, for every dollar the Town has expended from their CPF, they have obtained three additional dollars from outside conservation organizations.
To keep up to date on the CPP process here in Gardiner or learn more information on how the Community Preservation Funding works, please visit the Community Preservation Plan page on the Town of Gardiner website (www.townofgardiner.org). If you have questions or would like to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.