WESTCHESTER, NY - December 29, 2003 - The Open Space Institute, a land conservation group with headquarters in New York City, has announced a grant award of $500,000 toward the acquisition of the 27-acre Westwood Property in Westchester County. Joining OSI in this effort is Scenic Hudson, which will contribute $600,000. The County has already announced a $3,000,000 contribution. The property, located in the northeastern quadrant of the Village of Irvington, will be dedicated to open space and passive recreation.
The property will be joined with other Village lands and with 86 acres of property owned by Westchester County to form a 340 acre nature preserve, the largest such preserve south of I-287 in Westchester. “We're delighted to be partnering with Westchester County and Scenic Hudson again and with OSI for the first time on an important environmental conservation initiative,” said Irvington Mayor Dennis Flood. The Village and the County have partnered on numerous projects, including the Burnham Building affordable housing project and the Irvington Senior Citizens Center. Scenic Hudson and the Village were previously funding partners in the creation of the 12-acre Scenic Hudson waterfront park in Irvington which was converted from a former industrial use. It was New York State's first Brownfield remediation project funded by the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act.
The funding from Scenic Hudson and the Open Space Institute toward the total acquisition price of $6,850,000 will join funding previously committed in the amounts of $3,000,000 by Westchester County, $330,000 from New York State, $37,500 from the private Ambrose Monell Foundation, $17,500 from over 160 donors as part of a local private fundraising initiative, and $1,500,000 from the Village's Open Space Preservation Fund approved by Village residents in a referendum held in 2000. The acquisition will go forward but preserving the entire tract will be subject to additional future funding. Irvington Trustee and Deputy Mayor Garrard Beeney said, “we are enormously pleased to be working with these preeminent organizations, and we continue to work with representatives of the State to complete the necessary funding for this wonderful project.” The acquisition was the number one priority of the Village's Open Space Advisory Committee.
Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “Scenic Hudson is proud to participate in this broad based effort to preserve some of the precious remaining open space in Southern Westchester County. The benefits for the public of this protected land will only continue to grow over time, as development pressures make places like this increasingly rare.” "We're thrilled to be a partner in the protection of Westwood. It's a remarkable property. When you walk along its peaceful paths, it's hard to believe that you can be so close to nature and New York City all at the same time," said Joe Martens, President of the Open Space Institute.
The Village of Irvington will also contribute a house it owns on an adjoining property to become a nature center with permanent exhibits and education programs, and from which people may take fieldtrips into the nature preserve which will include trails and viewing platforms relative to indigenous wildlife and vegetation.
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano said, “I am delighted to hear about the additional funding that reinforces the County's strong support for the preservation of the Westwood Property and the value of partnerships with our municipalities and organizations like Scenic Hudson and the Open Space Institute to make projects like this happen.”