Legislature authorizes millions to move youth center forward

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Former Poughkeepsie YMCA

POUGHKEEPSIE – With a lone Republican lawmaker opposing the project, the Dutchess County Legislature approved plans to create a new Youth Opportunity Center at the site of the former YMCA in Poughkeepsie.

With the exception of Legislator Alan Surman, representing Dover and Union Vale, the legislature approved three resolutions on Monday night to move the long-anticipated project forward.  24 lawmakers voted first to authorize transferring ownership of the parcel from Poughkeepsie to the county, followed by declaring Dutchess County as the lead agency, and then allowing the use of $10 million of American Rescue Plan (ARP) money for the project.  The ARP funds are earmarked for three segments of the project; starting demolition of the current YMCA building, hiring a construction management firm, and the retention of a firm to design the new Youth Opportunity Center.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro presented the three resolutions to the legislature earlier this month and strongly advocated for their approval.  “Just as we have transformed mental health services and led a national movement to change the way we care for and support those with intellectual and physical disabilities, we will begin to set a new example, create new opportunities and help Dutchess County kids and their families in new ways,” he told Mid Hudson News after the approvals. “We are partnering with a passionate coalition of trailblazers and are dedicated to rebirth in our city centers, connections to our suburban and rural communities, and establishing a new foundation upon which we will harness the passion, professionalism, and potential of this team – and help our kids and their families set out on a new path to promise for generations to come.”

Legislator Llaverias (file photo).

Giancarlo Llaverias, a Democratic Legislator, was critical of Molinaro and Republicans on the legislature last month when they approved using ARP funds for improvements to Dutchess Stadium.  The Town of Poughkeepsie representative chastised his GOP colleagues for what he considered an abandonment of the county’s youth in favor of stadium improvements.  After the vote, Llaverias was ecstatic. ” Thank you to everyone who spoke,” he posted on social media, adding  “We fought for this and now it is here. I started my career fighting for a center and now it has come to be.”  The outspoken lawmaker called the votes “The highlight of my time as a legislator!”