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CE Steve Neuhaus, OC Land Trust, Walden Savings Bank President,OSI, & Scenic Hudson re. Sugar Loaf Mt. Acquisition (Part II Speakers/Video)

Updated: Jan 13



At an 1871 historic country red barn named "Woodside" on LaRue Road near Sugar Loaf Mountain in the Town of Chester, NY, just about everyone who has advocated for open space, trails and hiking, came to see the dream of "Saving Sugar Loaf Mountain" become a reality.


Jim Delaune, Orange County Land Trust Director speaks to the crowd, including the Palmer Family behind him and credited the many organizations that made the Sugar Loaf Mt. Acquisition possible.






Orange County Executive, Steve Neuhaus, recalled how (decades ago) he and the Orange County Land Trust Director, ,Jim Delaune, used to go for a hike and sit together dreaming of a day when the Mountain would have trails and be protected. Given the number of officials as well as the public who worked for both the processes and donations necessary, and the joint fears of what might happen to the view(s) if it didn't, well this protection of 309 acres, with a future access to the top of the Mountain for the public, was special.


Neuhaus spoke of how important it is to save both this and thousands of acres of additional open space in Orange County. He emphasized that it takes a broad team including Parks Department to carry it forward into fruition, adding "And not just Sugar Loaf, but the next one...and the next one ..."This year!"...."All over the place, from Deerpark to Port Jervis, all of the way to the Schunnemunk Rail Trail spur we're running from the Heritage Trail to Salisbury Mills. It's gonna be great!"


Speaking about how important and how effective the PDR program (where a small amount of real estate transactions, can be put aside into a PDR program that protects particularly important open space and treasured views). Goshen and Warwick have been very successful applying this program. But developers have lobbied hard against PDR programs, and despite proclaiming her administration as strong environmentalists, Governor Hochul has veto'd several PDR applications numerous times.


Neuhaus emphasized the importance of passing a COUNTYWIDE bill that would allow all municipalities to apply. He pointed out that our open space and scenic views are important for EVERYONE, including big business. When big companies come and decide whether to do business in Orange County, he said that decision is largely based on the quality of life they would have here.


Mediacom, in Blooming Grove, for example, not only vigorously protected its own site on Museum Village Road, it also contributed to the "Save Sugar Loaf Mt." project.


Neuhaus also thanked the public. After several very aggressive advertising campaigns and fundraising events they raised $200,000 toward the acquisition, through dinners, raffles, a beer at Long Lot, and so on.


Thanking the Palmer Family, Neuhaus said that the work of the Land Trust is amazing, but unless you have a willing partner in the land owner, you have nothing.


He again thanked Derrick Wynkoop, CEO of Walden Savings Bank, "Without

whose leadership this could not have happened, You have to be able to close a very complex process to the end, so without his leadership this could not have happened". Wynkoop said that when he heard of the project he knew that Walden Savings would be a perfect partner for the loan, being a mutual bank that has been in business for 152 years. This allowed the Land Trust to move forward on performing due diligence. At the time of the press conference Wynkoop had been able to attain and give an additional $5,000 small business grant toward project costs.




Derrick Wynkoop, CEO of Walden Savings Bank which offered the loan allowing the "Save the Mountain" project to move forward.


Seth McKee Scenic Hudson, Executive Director of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust and land programs who was able to give the project a large "Climate and Environmental Justice Grant." McKee also served on the Board of Directors of the New York-New Jersey Trails Conference. McKee called this acquisition "A great victory!"




Chester's new Town Supervisor, Brandon Holdridge said, "Sugar Loaf Mountain has been a landmark in Chester for generations. I certainly remember going up there with my uncle when I was younger. This is a big day for Chester. This is a big day for Orange County. I'm really glad that this acquisition was able to get through.


And lastly, no event to celebrate the future of Sugar Loaf Hamlet's Mountain complete without one of artist Nick Zungoli's beautiful representations of it, shared here with Jim Delaune.





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