Norbert Noe Holiday Lights Contest

The Town of Blooming Grove completed its Annual Norbert Noe Holiday Decorating Contest this week (It  was rained out the previous week). It was judged by the Blooming Grove Chamber of Commerce. Contestant homes and businesses were rated according to three categories: Most Festive, Most Creative, and the Norbert Noe Award (Best of the Best).

 Residence Winners were: 1. Most Festive – Heard Road  2. Most Creative – (tied on Cedar Trail and Amy Road  3. Norbert Noe/Best o the Best – 66 Barnes Road

Business Winners: 1. Most Festive – Guilty Pleasures Cheesecake 2. Most Creative – Mamba’s Creation 3. -Norbert Noe/Best of The Best – Amada’s Kitchen

Coat Drive Held At Newburgh Armory

With citizens’  help and incredible generosity in the Newburgh community,  more than 700 coats  were collected for the Newburgh Armory’s Annual Coat Drive! Some generous customers at Billy Joe’s Ribworks and at the Newburgh Brewery made that happen. The  Newburgh Armory managed the collection and disbursement process. And the NFA Boys Swim Team volunteered and organized all 700 coats.

Dare To Dream Toy Give Away

At Dare To Dream Christian Ministries Church on First Street in the City of Newburgh, a massive toy drive was held last Wednesday, December 22, to make sure every child in the area was able to celebrate Christmas.  The drive brought children and their parents nearby areas in  Newburgh and was a huge success.


(Photos provided by Karen Alvarez)

City Police Department is at Family Night in Newburgh Armory Unity Center

Christmas came early for over one hundred families at the Newburgh Enlarged City School District  on Newcomer Family Night! Many local businesses contributed to the hundreds of Christmas gifts that were donated, including:

Tristen Sierra, Realtor, Coldwell Banker, Blacc Vanilla Cafe, Regional Sales Center Rory O’Donnell, Greenway Mortgage Funding, Christoper Construction, Silk Factory Cafe, Glenny Medina, Estilo Muneca Boutique, Kabil & Noil, Tony Frankie, Frank Reid, and Sarah O’Flaherty

SOME DAMS MAY SAVE THE DAY

Blooming Grove – New Windsor – Chester – Monroe – Cornwall

By Edie Johnson

A rebuild of the dam and lengthy overflow channel on Museum Village Road that helps control the water flow from Orange-Rockland Lake is near completion.  The dam is located at the border of Blooming Grove, Monroe and also near the Chester border where this very large lake sits near one of the biggest interchanges with Route 17 in the area and an area densely populated  with both residents and businesses.

With climate change seemingly on the doorstep of municipalities in the eastern portion of Orange County, this new dam, along with another new dam at Beaverdam Lake (New Windsor, Cornwall, and Blooming Grove), has potential to  prevent severe flooding that has been experienced in the area several times in recent years.  Experts say that control of the sluice can let some water out ahead of a storm surge and  may be an important control measure to either limit or eliminate damage in the area.

The lake has been a popular recreation area for many years, including Goosepond Park trail visitors, water skiers, and many who come to visit the swans, ducks, pigeons and turtles that thrive there.

A large culvert drains excess water underneath Museum Village Road and into the woods where a creek on the Blooming Grove side of the road will connect with the dam via a second box culvert that Blooming Grove has out for bid and can prepare to install.

A Christmas Message

By Edie Johnson

It is said that sometimes the simplest things are the purest and most direct.  Surely that is true about the Blooming Grove Church of Christ at Christmas. It is a universal message and it is shared beautifully in the front of this very historic Hudson Valley church.  A light set just behind a small wooden cross casts a massive full height shadow cross on the front of the church’s facade.  So simple, it says that forgiveness and love are the center of Christianity, and indeed of most religions.  And that if one person lights a symbolic cross of peace and hope by their actions, it can travel and heal people across the world. The birth of Christ signaled a life of innocence and caring for others, even to the extent that while dying he said “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”.  This is a message for peace that we can share to people of all religions, races, and creeds.

So, let us all do our best to forgive those with whom we disagree, and those who may have hurt us whether intentionally or unintentionally,  because the forgiveness of the divine knows no limit, and without forgiveness we only hurt ourselves.

Blooming Grove Church of Christ was first formed in 1758 as a Presbyterian congregation. The members later razed the original structure, expanded the property and rebuilt it, preserving only some of the interior woodwork.The new building, designed by architect Joseph Cromwell, was 75 feet (23 m) by 63 feet (19 m). It had a sloping floor and box pews, with a gallery behind the pulpit. The congregation broke with Presbyterianism after its then-pastor, James Arbuckle, was tried for heresy. It became a Congregational church, but did not rename itself as such until 1871. The church’s magnificent 1902 Hook-Hastings pipe organ resonating around the hallowed walls,a gift from native son David H. Moffat who also funded the construction of the Moffat Library in Washingtonville. It is the Hook & Hastings Opus 1937.  It has 15 speaking ranks, 836 pipes.  Manual compass is 61 notes.  Pedal compass is 27 notes.  The manual keys are ivory-covered, pedal keys of walnut and maple.  The casework is quarter-sawn white oak, with mahogany stop jambs and key cheeks.

Will Foster Hospitality’s Grand Street project take flight?

By Michael Lebron

Last minute Christmas shopping didn’t keep a crowd from packing Newburgh’s City Hall for a hearing over a controversy about a PILOT.

One year ago, after receiving only two bids, the Orange County Legislature voted unanimously to award the former Masonic lodge, American Legion Hall and YMCA on Grand Street to Foster Supply Hospitality. The developer plans to convert them into an 80-room boutique hotel with a 100-seat restaurant, a spa, a rooftop lounge and event space.

Support seemed to be sky high for the project until the Newburgh Industrial Development Agency (IDA) held a hearing a month ago. Senator James Skoufis, among others, railed against “…the largesse of the tax breaks being sought—a 90 percent reduction for the first six years of operation, followed by an additional six years of abatements…” At a later City Council meeting, many councilmembers grumbled about the PILOT’s size and even the IDA itself.

The IDA, in an effort to increase transparency, scheduled a second hearing for Monday December 20.

Michael N’dolo of the MRB Group presented a third-party report (http://www.cityofnewburgh-ny.gov/574/IDA-Projects).It provided Test of Reasonableness Findings with benchmarked revenues and financing terms.  A Cost Benefit Analysis summarized fiscal impacts. The report concluded with details of the PILOT schedule. The buildings would generate $3.7M in taxes and $12.8M in wages during the 12-year PILOT. The buildings have generated no tax revenue for decades.

Public comments were fairly evenly split between pro and con. Many in opposition appeared to be allied with the incoming 1st ward councilmember Giselle Martinez. They self-identified as being young, out-of-town, and one stated that he was from the Democratic Socialists of America. They brought up concerns such as whether local or union workers would be hired.

Speaking with passion, eloquence and with decades of boots on the ground experience were two of Newburgh’s African American elder statesmen.

Fred Watson, board member of SUNY Orange County Community College and of Garnett Health’s Board and founder of Three Cities Management, spoke of Newburgh’s many deteriorating buildings and how these large, historic structures will not be easy to renovate. He felt that this was an opportunity to make something happen and that it held the potential for collaboration with other community stakeholders.

Kevin White, Executive Director of The Boys and Girls Club, said he’s seen the city turn down many projects and developers walk away from others, leaving behind trauma, despair and homelessness in the face of vacant, garbage strewn buildings. He spoke of the bullet holes in his office windows that he leaves there to remind him of why he is in Newburgh. With tears in his eyes, he said that he, too, thought that this was the start of something. He said that Newburgh should not blow it over the PILOT, that he didn’t care if Foster paid no taxes at all and that the jobs and other businesses that Foster will bring will help Newburgh keep its kids here, especially with the added educational opportunities.

Interestingly, it was two of the Council’s three African American members, Mayor Harvey and Mr. Grice,  who, pivoting from their earlier criticism, came to this hearing… this time clearly supporting the project. Said Grice: “While the PILOT may seem high, it is on a graduated scale, and, based on the data, is in line with what is needed”.

Meanwhile,the developer himself was sitting in the front row: not with a group of lawyers as is usually the case, but by himself, quietly taking it all in.

I later spoke to Senator Skoufis to get some added clarification on the finances. He said that Foster got a $1.25M grant after the 12-year PILOT was proposed: why therefore shouldn’t the PILOT be reduced by that amount? An IDA member responded that Foster had asked for $2.5M, and that the grant and the PILOT had been concurrently factored into the analysis. He pointed out that while the PILOT provides banks with tax stability during the critical first years, it also gives the city the ability to rescind the abatements in the event that the developer fails to deliver on his community promises. He concluded that this is still an ongoing process with the final terms of the deal still evolving.

So, will this deal take off? The Fosters are already doing renovations on their new home (presumably, no PILOT needed) near the other end of Grand Street. It seems they expect to be here for a while.

A New Police Officer for Blooming Grove

At their regular Town Board Meeting this week, Zachary Bender was sworn in as a new Police Officer.  Bender transferred from the NYPD after 6 years of service there.  Lieutenant Kevin Wakeham said their team is looking forward to Zachary’s addition to their department.

Caption – Supervisor Rob Jeroloman (L) and Lieutenant Kevin Wakeham (R) welcome the Town’s newest Police Officer Zachary Bender (Center)