Support grows for Crystal Lake Park

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 1/10/24

A 109 acre parcel of land in the City of Newburgh which includes Crystal Lake and the surrounding green space area seeks to be preserved and recognized as a fully usable and accessible city park for …

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Support grows for Crystal Lake Park


A 109 acre parcel of land in the City of Newburgh which includes Crystal Lake and the surrounding green space area seeks to be preserved and recognized as a fully usable and accessible city park for all residents. Over the course of an hour at City Hall on Monday, January 8, members and supporters called for the city council to support the designation of the land as a park.

A community driven campaign known as “Newburgh Wants A Park” (NWaPC), led by 29 community organizations and many groups of volunteers, has worked over many months collecting data, engaging the community and garnering support for the land to park designation. The group hopefully seeks an official resolution passed by city council to dedicate the land at a future council meeting.

“We, on Thursday [January 4], the Newburgh Wants a Park Campaign coalition presented to the city council to share the results of an eight month survey, outreach and research campaign to garner public input on the 109 acres of green space surrounding Crystal Lake and the Snake Hill Corridor,” said Anusha Mehar. “Through our efforts, we built a coalition of 29 local and regional community based organizations as partners, through which we directly engaged 2,300 Newburgh households via a direct mailer sent to residences within a 15 minute walking distance of Crystal Lake. We also received feedback from roughly 400 community members at least 10 community events, three of which we hosted ourselves at different places within the City of Newburgh and a survey that remains open to the public today for increased participation, and gained 1,000 petition signatures in support of park dedication.”

Research conducted by NWaPC has found that according to the American Planning Association (APA), they recommend that 12.5 percent of urban lands be dedicated to parklands. The group was able to determine that Newburgh’s current parkland is 2.8 percent of city lands. If the city were to designate the land as parkland this would more than double the city’s existing parkland inventory to 6.5% according to their research. Several notable figures from the NWaPC’s work have found that 98.3% of respondents support protecting Crystal Lake as a public park, 77.9% live in the City and Town of Newburgh area and 71.6% agree that all or most of the 109 acres should be protected going forward. Other notable points from data collected included the addition of a public transit stop for increased accessibility and community members continue to ask for more walking and hiking trails to be included for the possible park.

The Crystal Lake area is a city-owned property that borders the Town of Newburgh and Town of New Windsor and is part of the greater Quassaick Creek Watershed. The land features wetlands, various habitats, forested steep slopes and is now home to the Sanctuary Healing Gardens. The parcel of land is located in Ward 3 of the city and was once frequented by the residents of the area for swimming and other recreational activities. However, the vegetation of the area began to overgrow, the area became a dumping ground for passersby and the land was ultimately neglected. Today, the lake area has seen garbage and other debris cleared allowing for revitalization of the land. Crystal Lake allows residents to traverse the wooded area in the city along various walking trails such as the Snake Hill trail and the lake is actively used for fishing by residents.

“We [Scenic Hudson] fully support the designation of Crystal Lake as a city park. There is synergy between the creation of a park and the adjacent Scenic Hudson Snake Hill Preserve. Crystal Lake and the adjacent municipal lands are a key part of the Quassaick Creek Greenway Corridor,” said Julia Raskin, resident and senior project manager for Scenic Hudson. “It serves as the forested uplands and western anchor for this important Hudson tributary. We look forward to learning from the natural resources inventory that’s underway and we’re committed to working alongside the city and its residents in making data-informed conservation decisions that will impact the wellbeing for generations to come.”

“I go there to learn, I go there to work, I go there to hang out with my friends. I run into people that I haven’t seen in like 10 years, that’s always really, really fun and I make new friends as well but more often than any of that, I go there by myself when I’m feeling super stressed and anxious,” said Kathryn McKenzie. “I can go and take a walk down the trail and listen to the birds. I can sit by the water and watch the bugs, the dragonflies especially. I’m very aware of the fact that I would not be here had I not found Crystal Lake and the Sanctuary. I hope that you will all make that choice to protect this land.”

City council members during the work session on January 4 and Monday’s meeting vocalized their support for the park and will need to review various costs associated and ultimately make a determination on the designation of the land later on. “Whatever we do, I want to make sure that it is great for our community and our community is aware of you know, aware of the park and the different things that we offer to the city,” said Councilman Robert McLymore. “I think that this is wonderful work that you are doing. The fact that you were bringing this lake back to life, you were offering this to the community. It’s a green space that people can go to that don’t have access to green spaces,” said Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde.