Lt. Governor in Poughkeepsie to open East Gate Plaza on the Walkway

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin was in Poughkeepsie on Monday to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new East Gate Plaza of the Walkway Over the Hudson.  The noontime event drew local elected officials and several Walkway volunteers.

The $2 million East Gate Plaza is outside of the Poughkeepsie entrance to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. The expanded gathering space more than doubles the size of the pathway atop the Washington Street staircase and provides a location for community events. 

Benjamin represented a portion of Manhattan in the State Senate before being named as the new lieutenant governor and noted how important parks were during the height of the pandemic, by giving people a chance to get outdoors while still being safe. 

He noted that plazas like the new East Gate Plaza are great places for people to gather and play a role in quality of life improvement. “It is so important, as we move forward out of the pandemic, that we focus on quality of life and plazas are an important piece of quality of life,” he said. “You can just sit down and enjoy the air, and just smell the environment.” Noting that the Walkway welcomes more than 600,000 visitors annually and is good for the economy due to the high number of international tourists. “International tourists spend three to four more times as much as domestic tourists do.”

The hallmark of the East Gate Plaza includes a walk-in space for guests to purchase Walkway merchandise, improved access to sundries, snacks, drinks, and other items,  and a covered pavilion with audio/visual capabilities to support events, tours, and  special programs. Part of the project is on property that State Parks acquired through the support of the not-for-profit Open Space Institute. 

“These improvements at the Walkway will encourage even more people to explore this amazing place and allow them to better connect with the park and surrounding community,” said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid.

Monday’s visitors were greeted by Walkway Over the Hudson Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein added to Benjamin’s economy mention, by noting that the new facility is “another step in providing improved amenities for our visitors and contributing to the economic vitality of the region. The new plaza and Friends Shop provides a welcoming space for our Walkway Ambassadors to meet, greet and inform our 600,000 annual patrons.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin

State Senator Sue Serino was at the ceremony and touted the facility. “The Walkway Over the Hudson has long been a major attraction for both residents and visitors alike and these improvements will ensure that the Walkway can play host to even larger community events, providing a unique space for neighbors to come together and take in some of the best the Hudson Valley has to offer.”

Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison has been a staunch proponent for the Walkway, touting the benefits of the structure and the experience. “Since its opening more than a decade ago, the Walkway Over the Hudson has been a catalyst for the City of Poughkeepsie, drawing people to our area and providing residents with a magnificent, breathtaking park that spans the Hudson River. The opening of East Gate Plaza is yet another enhancement that ties this majestic park to the city neighborhoods, and we appreciate the ongoing investments the state has made to ensure the Walkway Over the Hudson continues to be a gem and a major asset to the city.”