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Public gets say in Poughkeepsie waterfront redevelopment strategy

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Albany/HV: Public gets say in Poughkeepsie waterfront redevelopment strategy
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People in Poughkeepsie get a chance to weigh in on the city's waterfront redevelopment project. YNN's John Wagner has more on how the people are involved in the plans for the future of the Hudson.

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- The City of Poughkeepsie has rocked through rough waters during the economic downturn and now officials are eyeing their prime waterfront as a way to turn the tide.

"This is our front porch and we need to do it right and this is also our opportunity to get it done right," said Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.

Over the next six months, leaders in Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County are working to create an all-encompassing plan on how to develop the waterfront. First stop: Public input.

"Hopefully this will grow gracefully and not be a massive project and let public money come in and fuse most of this effort," said Lou Strippoli, a business owner in the Little Italy neighborhood.

"Poughkeepsie has the greatest potential of any city on the Hudson," said Bob Palombo, another business owner who invested in Poughkeepsie's future. "We need tourist dollars and we need people to find out how beautiful the city is. And they need some place to stay, hotels, restaurants."

The city is counting on becoming a regional tourism hub with the Walkway over the Hudson, trains and NY Greenways all intersecting. But locals are concerned that if all chips are laid at the waterfront, the rest of the city, even Main Street, could be forgotten.

"If we build the waterfront, we take away the investment that those people have been putting in the city, because their investment becomes lessened simply by the fact that they are not the place that's closest to where people get off the train," said Eric Townsend, who lives on Main Street.

Townsend wants the city's future and waterfront development to look more like what Beacon has done than Newburgh.

"They want to link the waterfront to Main Street and that's key to economic development in the city," said Ken Kraft, a coffee shop owner in Poughkeepsie.

Developing the waterfront with the right mix of green space and attractions is a challenge, but connecting it to Main Street and getting visitors to spend money there is another.

"To make the waterfront thrive, we still need to have a city center that's thriving," said Townsend.

Officials say they'll take the public's input and create several blueprints for them to consider and debate come March.

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