Fall Kill Creek Connector
Flowing through the City of Poughkeepsie, Fall Kill Creek connects Northside neighborhoods with nature and each other. Today, the creek also links initiatives to transform public spaces into ways that will help address local concerns — having access to safer places to enjoy the outdoors, providing youth with skills that could lead to career pathways, and fostering a deeper sense of community and belonging.
Problems & Possibilities
Via active and ongoing engagement, many Northside residents have expressed concerns about issues that set back efforts to make neighborhoods safer, healthier, more equitable, and more fun to live in.
Nearly a quarter of Poughkeepsie public school students are considered obese, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and other diet-related illnesses. At the same time, flooding from Fall Kill Creek, which flows through Northside neighborhoods, deposits health-threatening pollutants in backyards and parks.
The Urban Trail and planned improvements to Pershing and Malcolm X parks will increase opportunities to spend time outdoors, enhancing physical and mental well-being. Ongoing study of Fall Kill Creek will identify and provide strategies for reducing pollution.
Deferred maintenance and upkeep prevent Northside parks from being safe havens for recreation and outdoor fun. Educational opportunities are hampered by the lack of safe connections to the neighborhoods’ natural assets, most importantly Fall Kill Creek, which offers exciting potential for hands-on learning.
All planned projects will prioritize visitor safety and creating safer streets linking neighborhood homes to nearby parks and trails. New “outdoor classrooms” along Fall Kill Creek will offer new learning opportunities.
Only one grocery store operates within city limits, and it can take up to 30 minutes to access larger stores via public transportation. Both contribute to two alarming statistics — 25% of Poughkeepsie households experience food insecurity and 11% hunger. Lack of food access also is a primary cause of the city’s high rate of diet-related illness.
At the community garden in the Pershing Avenue Neighborhood Farm, Northside residents grow fruits and vegetables that meet personal likes and needs. The urban farm will be a resource for more local families to access fresh, nutritious produce close to home.
Creating new programs that connect young people to their community could share important job skills and instill a greater sense of civic ownership and pride. Meanwhile, more activities for youth to explore nature could lead to a lifelong love for the outdoors and a commitment to protecting it.
A regular series of educational and volunteer activities for youth will encourage them to become stewards of restored natural treasures. A focus on building viable job skills will help prepare young people for possible future careers.
Although this discriminatory lending practice was banned more than 50 years ago, many cities still grapple with its impacts, including Poughkeepsie. Local neighborhoods that were redlined — graded as “high risk” for lending by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in the 1930s — are among the 64% nationwide that remain low to moderate income.
Grassroots organizing and education empower residents to make their voices heard by decision-making bodies, and help ensure elected officials adopt equitable housing policies that meet the interests of long-time, historically disenfranchised residents.
In addition to severing residential neighborhoods like the Northside from downtown shops and businesses, the city’s three-lane east-west arterials encourage speeding that contributes to a high rate of accidents and discourage people from crossing, let alone biking on them. The routes’ highway-like appearance also hinders beautification efforts.
The City of Poughkeepsie is committed to repairing the fracture in community cohesiveness caused by the arterial and is exploring ways to reconnect Northside neighborhoods with the downtown. Scenic Hudson and the Northside Collaborative strongly support these efforts.
New parks and open space improvements meant to enhance quality of life for current Northside residents could potentially lead to displacement due to rising property values and/or drastic rent hikes — a form of environmental injustice known as green gentrification.
For Poughkeepsie residents without cars, the city can be a hard place to get around — its narrow side streets and high-speed arterials dangerous for cycling, and many of its sidewalks and crosswalks unsafe for people with limited mobility and ill-lighted at night. Access to public transportation often requires a long walk.
We’re working with the city and county on street improvements — such as new crosswalks, landscaping, lighting, and traffic-calming measures — to ensure safer transportation for pedestrians and bicyclists.