On April 14, the Village of New Paltz submitted an application for the Ulster County Municipal Parks and Recreation Grant in order to fund a project to rehabilitate the pickleball and basketball courts in Hasbrouck Park along Elting Avenue.
The project calls for the extensive rehabilitation of the park’s courts as well as the immediate vicinity. The failing retaining wall between the courts and Elting Avenue would be fixed, as well as the collapsing fencing around the courts. Water from rainfall would be redirected away from the courts, surfaces would be evened and the spacing between the court boundaries and fencing would be increased in order to make play safer. The pedestrian access of the fencing and courts would be improved ADA-access, which is currently non-existent, will be added.
The grant application asks for an explanation of the benefits of the project in terms of “how it serves the public and improves health and safety.” The Village of New Paltz states that Hasbrouck Park connects downtown New Paltz to the SUNY campus, and that the park facilities “provide safe spaces to enhance skills and personal development for young and old alike, offering healthy, affordable social experiences for families and friends and visitors to [New Paltz’s] community.” The Village cites that New Paltz’s population is 63% low/moderate income, many of whom are young people. This designates New Paltz as an Environmental Justice area. “Widely accessible recreational activities are a natural form of harm reduction,” the Village states.
The MPRG is a $2 million matching grant. Because it is a matching grant, funding requests require a 50% total cost match, meaning that the requesting municipality must provide at least half of the total project cost. The maximum funding the grant can award is $100,000. The estimated total project cost for the Hasbrouck Park plan is $278,702.50. The Village gave a match of $175,621 and requested the maximum MPRG funding, bringing the total project budget to $275,621.
The Municipal Parks and Recreation Grant (MPRG) is funded by the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF). The US Department of the Treasury states that the SLFRF “delivers $350 billion to state, territorial, local and Tribal governments across the country to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency.” The SLFRF was established by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in 2021. Ulster County received $34.49 million from ARPA; New Paltz received $750,000 of its own ARPA funding, according to New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers.
“We put it all towards water projects because we felt that there was a direct connection between how COVID impacted our community and our water fund,” Rogers said. As SUNY New Paltz is the Village’s largest customer, the Village decided to update the filtration unit of the plant near the school, a project costing $5.5 million. While the Village had to service the debt through water usage, Rogers stated that only 43% of the dorms in SUNY New Paltz were occupied due to COVID-19. This dip in consumers negatively impacted revenues.
Though the Village had used all of its ARPA funding, Ulster County had extra funds from ARPA. The county had used these extra funds to create the MPRG in an effort to improve the county’s recreation assets, especially in terms of accessibility to bodies of water. The MPRG gave the Village the opportunity to work on the Hasbrouck Park project, which was originally developed in 2016. The Village of New Paltz Board of Trustees voted unanimously for Resolution No. 18 of 2023 to request funding for the rehabilitation for Hasbrouck Park. Rogers predicts that, if the grant is awarded and the Village receives a contract, work will be underway next year.
The MPRG application encourages the municipality to show community support, so the Village posted a petition online; 177 residents voiced their opinions about the project.
The vast majority of the comments were positive. Stephanie Lions commented on the petition,“Parks and recreational spaces are integral to the community in providing free and universal access to activities that benefit the physical health and mental health of its citizens.”
Reginald Gardner also commented, “I have played pickleball at the Hasbrouck for 6 months and have witnessed families and retirees, adolescents enjoying the courts, I see the courts as a great opportunity for healthy exercise and community participation. Reconditioning the courts will draw more people to this worthwhile activity.”
Another comment by Jennifer Welles stated, “Functioning public parks and recreational spaces offer important opportunities for healthy activity, community building and create a sense of place. My mother lives near Hasbrouck Park and my daughter loves going there to play basketball or just spend time in the park alone or with friends.”
“Community outdoor spaces like these provide the opportunity for adults and children to access these activities without requiring them to join organized groups that may not work for them by schedule or by preference. Outdoor courts that keep people active helps the health and well-being of all who choose to take advantage of them,” Rebecca Haskel wrote.
The Hasbrouck Park project is part of the Village’s larger plan to create more recreational activities for young people in the area. Rogers said a plan for a skate park in Hasbrouck Park is in the works.