POUGHKEEPSIE – Months of often contentious debate, and emotional appeals from citizens on both sides of the issue ended Monday night with Poughkeepsie Common Council approval to sell the property commonly known as Wheaton Park.
The site, at 36 North Clover Street, also contains the Pelton Mansion, built in 1911, and which most recently housed the Poughkeepsie Day nursery. The nursery ceased operation last year and the building is in disrepair.
Most of the nearly 90 minutes of public comment at the start of the meeting was more input from citizens, about evenly divided on the question. A descendant of the first occupants in the house was among those speaking in favor of selling the property to Pelton Partners LLC.
The prevailing sentiment among council members was that the city cannot care for the property, but there are two developers who have a viable project.
Councilman Joseph Rich summed up what most were saying.
“If we don’t sell this, the building will fall down and decay and we’ll have to, by law, take all of the trash that falls out and cart it away and nothing will be on that site for many years, because the city doesn’t have the money to do anything with it.” Rich said.
Dissent came from Democrats Randall Johnson and Ann Perry. Johnson voiced what had been one of the key complaints of citizens opposing the sale.
“I want to thank Mr. Tinklemann and Mr. Nussbickel for your interest in investing in the City of Poughkeepsie, but this lack of transparency, lack of open government and irresponsible practices goes against everything I stand for, and I will not be supporting this sale,” Johnson said.
The other six council members supported it, albeit with some concerns. That’s what was needed because the sale of city-owned property requires a two-thirds majority.
Pelton Partners LLC, consisting of Steven Tinkelman and Wayne Nussbickel, will pay $600,000 for the land. In response to months of questions from residents and council members, many changes have been made to their proposal, which they now say will bring needed residential housing close to the downtown area, and they say, will maintain some green space and restore Pelton.