New Features Coming to West Point Foundry Preserve

Thursday, May 11, 2017 -- Scenic Hudson
Contact: 

Jay Burgess
Director of Communications, Scenic Hudson, Inc.
Tel: (845) 473-4440 x222 Cell: (914) 489-0362 Fax: (845) 473-0740
jburgess@scenichudson.org

Popular trails and park will remain open during construction

COLD SPRING (PUTNAM COUNTY)—To make Scenic Hudson’s West Point Foundry Preserve even more enjoyable for residents and visitors, construction will begin this month on new additions at the 90-acre park, just a few blocks off Main Street in the Village of Cold Spring. At the project’s completion in late 2017, there will be new scenic viewing areas, and park-goers—including those with mobility challenges—will appreciate an enhanced trail network providing closer access to foundry ruins surrounded by a dramatic ravine and the gentle murmur of Foundry Brook.

The park will remain open during construction. However, visitors should exercise caution because construction vehicles will be entering and exiting the property.

West Point Foundry Overlook

New overlook feature at West Point Foundry Preserve. 

Stunning views of the Hudson River and Highlands

A large overlook will be created on a 3.26-acre bluff, formerly part of a 13-acre residential property adjacent to West Point Foundry Preserve. In 2009, Scenic Hudson purchased the parcel, which included a home that once was the residence of William Kemble, co-founder of the West Point Foundry. The overlook will offer stunning views of ecologically important Foundry Cove, Constitution Island, West Point and parts of the Hudson Highlands. The residence and 9.42 acres will be sold to a private owner and not be open to the public.

A steel staircase will ascend the bluff from the marsh trail that leads into the preserve from Cold Spring’s Metro-North Station. Five oversized landings in the staircase will accommodate benches for resting and taking in the views. Small interpretive panels on the landings will explain the history of the Kemble property and its connections to the West Point Foundry. The overlook will include a 15-by-32-foot wooden deck.

“Scenic Hudson is excited about opening this special addition to the popular West Point Foundry Preserve. We look forward to these new features adding one-of-a-kind opportunities for people in Cold Spring and visitors to connect with the power of the Hudson River and learn about the site’s unique historic and natural treasures. Public parks like this make the valley one of the best places to live or visit,” said Scenic Hudson Land Trust Executive Director Steve Rosenberg.

The foundry for 100 years was a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution. The peaceful setting of the new overlook will be vastly different than the din greeting 19th-century visitors to the West Point Foundry. Established in 1817 to supply the U.S. government with artillery, the ironworks’ hundreds of employees produced some of America’s first steam engines and locomotives, as well as pipes for New York City’s water system and Parrott guns, cannons credited with winning the Civil War. Today 1.5 miles of trails follow old rail beds and pass extensive foundry remains that led to the preserve’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Interpretive features—including a full-scale sculptural model of a 36-foot water wheel—tell the site’s intriguing story. At the center of the preserve is the foundry’s 1865 Office Building. Two miles of additional trails pass more foundry ruins and take visitors to related sites in Cold Spring, including Scenic Hudson’s Foundry Dock Park. Scenic Hudson offers free guided foundry tours, www.scenichudson.org/events.

Gathering area to offer attractive space for tours and events

Located at the middle of the preserve and just in front of the stabilized 1865 Office Building, the gathering area is flanked by existing picnic tables and shade trees, and the main pathway through the site. The new space will include picnic spots; a grassed multi-purpose space for large tours, field trips and events; and additional benches and paths. Visitors, including those with mobility challenges, will be able to get closer to standing ruins and Foundry Brook as well as the stations for accessing the audiovisual tour of West Point Foundry Preserve, www.foundrytour.org, using any web-enabled mobile device.

Project creating local jobs

Transitional Builders, Inc., of Staatsburg, is the general contractor for the $520,000 project. The firm was chosen through a competitive bidding process. Scenic Hudson Park Planner Heather Blaikie is overseeing the project. Plans for the improvements underwent review, including a public comment session, before being approved by the Village of Cold Spring’s Planning Board and Historic District Review Board.

Putnam History Museum Executive Director Mindy Krazmien said, “The museum welcomes Scenic Hudson’s continued improvements to the West Point Foundry Preserve. The new overlook will provide important new historical interpretation of the property of William Kemble (1790–1881), who helped establish the West Point Foundry. This new interpretation provides another way for visitors and the community alike to understand and enjoy the foundry’s historical significance.”

Cold Spring resident Jan Thacher said, “The new stairs leading to the William Kemble property are a great addition to the preserve. They will provide a new perspective both visually and historically, telling a more complete story of the foundry and our historic riverfront. Scenic Hudson has worked with major success to make the foundry preserve accessible for people of various abilities to enjoy. I am very glad they are continuing this important inclusion within this proposal—this is cool.”

Projects mark continued investment in community and its economy

The latest project expands upon Scenic Hudson’s goal of creating an education-heritage resource that tells the stories of the foundry’s role in the Industrial Revolution, the Civil War (including an 1862 visit by President Abraham Lincoln) and the land’s remarkable ecological renewal following the cleanup of contamination from a nearby former industrial site. Scenic Hudson has invested more than $8 million in the preserve, including acquisition of the property in 1996 to prevent its development. The preserve has won major awards for both its landscape design and historic preservation.

West Point Foundry Preserve plays an important role in the local economy. Parks, recreational areas and historic sites are engines of the Hudson Valley’s $5.2-billion tourism economy that employs 85,000 people. In Putnam County alone, tourism generates $59 million in spending annually that sustains more than 1,300 jobs. Parks also contribute to the region’s iconic scenic beauty and excellent quality of life, prime attractions for maintaining and expanding businesses as well as selling new businesses on relocating here.

About Scenic Hudson

Scenic Hudson preserves land and farms and creates parks that connect people with the inspirational power of the Hudson River, while fighting threats to the river and natural resources that are the foundation of the valley’s prosperity. A crusader for the valley since 1963, we are credited with saving fabled Storm King Mountain from a destructive industrial project and launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, we are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. Our team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 65 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved more than 40,000 acres.

###