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Visitors’ Welcome Center and Beatrice G. Donofrio Environmental Education Complex



Next Steps in Restoration of Denning’s Point

Next Steps in Restoration of Denning’s Point
 
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today announced a $3.2 million investment in Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve to convert an abandoned paperclip factory into the formal Visitors’ Welcome Center and the Beatrice G. Donofrio Environmental Education Complex. The project, part of a public-private partnership with Clarkson University and its Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, aims to showcase the rich history of the park’s Denning’s Point in Beacon as well as the ecological diversity of the Hudson River Estuary. 

The work will complete the transformation of the first floor of a former industrial plant to its re-purposed use for research and education.  Earlier stages of work to the structural and exterior building shell were completed in 2021.  This next stage of work will finish the interior to create a welcome center with classroom, collaborative, and supporting spaces -- featuring accessible restrooms, and an elevator to access an open floor plan on the second level.  Exterior work will provide utility connections, parking and pathways all enhanced by site furnishings and selective landscaping. 


Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner of NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, said “The Center will expand our knowledge of the Hudson River Estuary in a changing climate, while serving as a gateway for the community to explore and enjoy the Denning’s Point Park. I am tremendously grateful to Governor Hochul, Clarkson and all of our partners for helping bring an innovative educational facility to the community."

Spending the last day of his 19-year Clarkson University presidency at the event on June 30, Anthony G. Collins, President of Clarkson University, said “With the Governor, State agencies, elected representatives and community leaders, we have developed a model public-private partnership at Denning’s Point that couples world-relevant healthy water research, innovation, education and recreation for public good. We are pleased to be able to recognize Nick Donofrio and his family for their support of the project honoring their mother with the Beatrice G. Donofrio Environmental Education Complex, as an extension of the Visitor’s Welcome Center to the Park, in the Beacon community she called home.”   

Marc P. Christensen, President-Elect of Clarkson University, said, “Governor Hochul is nationally recognized for her bold leadership to address environmental issues and climate change with sustainable solutions. With parks and trail systems in New York State setting new records in community usage, this public-private collaboration at Denning’s Point provides direct access for all learners -- regardless of age, resources or financial capacity -- to engage in citizen science alongside scientific experts and advocate for the natural environment in new and meaningful ways that matter to our future.”

Senator Sue Serino said, "This is an exciting day for our community as we announce an innovative investment to advance a truly unique public-private partnership. The new Visitors’ Welcome Center and the Beatrice G. Donofrio Environmental Education Complex will help advance research to preserve this great natural resource for generations to come and simultaneously boost education and recreational opportunities for visitors and residents alike. We cannot wait to see what the future has in store for this great space, and I thank Clarkson University, and all the stakeholders who are working tirelessly to make this impressive vision a reality."

Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson said, “Clarkson University's project at Denning’s Point State Park in Beacon is an unbelievable win for Beacon and the entire Hudson Valley. Clarkson has long been a supporter of the Hudson Valley and an advocate our environment. Its educational programs benefit students from both Beacon and Newburgh giving them a new insight into the world around them. I applaud the investment of Clarkson University and the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Renovation. The $3.2 million investment into the abandoned paperclip factory will create jobs and a new generation of scholars with an appreciation for our environment. I congratulate outgoing Clarkson University President Tony Collins for his years of service to Clarkson and the Hudson Valley, his vision for Denning’s Point and his commitment to make his vision a reality, and we look forward to working with President-Elect Marc Christensen.”

The project continues a multi-phased restoration investment that began in 2003 at Denning’s Point, the site of the abandoned, former Denning’s Point Brickworks The first step towards remediating the site and creating an educational campus on Denning’s Point was the renovation of the former Denning’s Point Brickworks into a 4,000-square-foot multipurpose LEED Gold educational facility known today as the Water Ecology Center. 
 
Clarkson fully acquired the Beacon Institute in 2011 and further established a full-time base of educational, research and community outreach operations in the Hudson Valley. Subsequent bridge work leading to the Park, infrastructure improvements, remediation of hazardous waste and site preparations were completed in 2021 using public and private funds, which provided the necessary groundwork for the critical expansion of education and research facilities for Clarkson and its partners to serve the City of Beacon, the Hudson Valley and NYS. 

Headquartered at Denning’s Point, Clarkson’s Beacon Institute for Rivers & Estuaries and faculty from its Institute for STEM Education ignite community science, user-inspired R&D and education through collaboration and creative innovation, inspiring sustainable solutions for estuary and freshwater ecosystems throughout the Hudson Valley and across New York State. This construction and renovation will further support research focused on healthy water solutions and expand the base for STEM educational services at all levels, including K-12, public and family and professional graduate programs.

The project builds on Governor Hochul's efforts to expand and enhance outdoor recreation across New York State. The newly enacted Fiscal Year 2023 budget increased capital funding for State Parks by $140 million, for a total of $250 million. This substantial level of funding will aid the ongoing transformation of New York's flagship parks and support critical infrastructure projects throughout the park system.

A mostly undeveloped preserve of over 8,000 acres with over 70 miles of trail, Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve consists of a series of separate parcels of land stretching from Annsville Creek in Peekskill, north to Denning’s Point in Beacon. The Park Preserve protects a mosaic of special habitats from the estuarine shore of the Hudson River, through young deciduous forest, to the rocky ridges and summits towering above the surrounding area, providing a haven for many plants and animals The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by more than 78 million people annually. 

For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Also, connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.



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