County Executive’s Corner: “Preserve and Protect”

By County Executive Ed Day

Last year we cut the ribbon on the beautifully restored barn at the Cropsey Farm property in New City. This is a piece of Rockland’s history that, together with the Town of Clarkstown, we are preserving for future generations and saving from being developed. Back in 2006 Rockland partnered with the Town under the Open Space Acquisition program to take ownership of the Cropsey property in order to preserve it.

I am pleased to announce that the County is once again accepting nominations of properties that will help us preserve open space and protect our County’s environment and beauty for future generations.

The program was first launched in 1999 by former County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef with the goal of acquiring areas of scenic beauty, environmentally sensitive lands, farms, and Hudson River waterfront areas.

Due to Rockland’s improved financial standing, we are once again at a point where we can consider spending money to safeguard our environment and I am committed to working with Environmental Committee Chair Harriet Cornell and the County Legislature to do so in a way that is fiscally responsible and fair to our taxpayers. We created a 2020 Capital Project which includes a $30 million authorization to acquire Open Space properties.

Until Rockland County’s fiscal crisis caused the program to be suspended in 2010, 31 individual properties were acquired preserving 1,204 acres of land. A total of $23,300,000 in County funds were expended while $11,576,000 in state grants and partnerships with Land Trusts and local municipalities were leveraged.

In addition to the Cropsey Farm property, we were able to purchase and preserve Haverstraw Bay Park, one of the most popular parks in Rockland County which averages 125,000 visitors annually.

I want to invite all of you to submit nominations of properties you feel are worthy of preservation. Information and guidelines about the Open Space program, as well as nomination forms, are available at: http://rocklandgov.com/departments/environmental-resources/open-space-acquisition-program/

As part of our update to the program, these nomination forms are now form-fillable and can be submitted via email. After a nomination form is submitted it will be reviewed by our internal Open Space Advisory Committee made up of representatives from the Division of Environmental Resources, Department of Planning, Department of Health, Office of Fire and Emergency Services and the Rockland County Drainage Agency. Next steps include:

• Determination made that property owner is interested in selling.
• Field inspection and rating of each property based on the Open Space Guidelines.
• Appraisal of property.
• County Executive’s Office makes determination to proceed with purchase, resolution prepared and submitted to the County Legislature.

I am incredibly proud of the work Rockland has done in the past but now it is up to all of us to preserve and protect our irreplaceable natural, cultural and scenic resources for