On 9/16/21 Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro unveiled a new website, www.the-you.org, which provides County residents with updates about the forthcoming “Youth Opportunity Union,” formerly known to as the Youth Opportunity Center and referred to moving forward as “the YOU,” the state-of-the-art facility that will serve communities throughout the county and be located in the heart of the City of Poughkeepsie.
The new website spells out the mission of the YOU, provides a concise timeline and introduces the public to the project designers. The site also provides background on the project, including links to view past public meetings about the project, as well information about how the community can get involved and stay informed about the progress.
The YOU, to be constructed at the former YMCA site on Montgomery Street, will be a multi-use facility offering young people recreational, educational and healthy opportunities — both physical and mental. It also will be home to the County’s Path to Promise initiative, which aims to bolster and harness community assets to ensure all young people in Dutchess County have the chance to realize their full potential as they grow into young adults.
The County Legislature recently authorized a land agreement with the City of Poughkeepsie and a $10 million request from County Executive Molinaro for the County to begin work on creating the center. This autumn, the County’s Path to Promise team and MASS Design Group — the Project Lead and Architect for the YOU — will travel throughout Dutchess County to meet with community members and gather input on the design and activities for the new facility; further information about these meetings will be shared on the YOU website. The County’s Department of Public Works (DPW) is also currently working with MASS Design Group to plan for the demolition of the former Dutchess YMCA building in the first half of 2022.
County Executive Molinaro said, “We will continue engaging the public in many conversations about the YOU and look forward to these meetings, which will take place throughout the county. We already have identified some excellent partners in this endeavor, but we also realize more public input is essential as we move to the design phase of this project.”
Dutchess County Assistant Youth Commissioner Karmen Smallwood, who leads the Path to Progress initiative, said, “Dutchess County fully embraces the concept of the YOU. Serving the county, the YOU will be a welcoming and inclusive space, where children can play, learn and grow. We’re excited about this project and how perfectly it fits into the Path to Promise mission.”
Sanjay Natesan, president of the Dutchess County Youth Council, said, “This will be a place where children and young adults will feel right at home. They will know it was built with them in mind. Dutchess County needs a youth center like this, and I am excited this project is underway. I know it will bring joy to so many once it’s built and the doors are open.”
Rev. Dr. Jesse V. Bottoms, Jr., Pastor of Beulah Baptist Church, said, “A youth center is a vital component missing in the City of Poughkeepsie. The YOU is essential and will provide a safe, structured and horizon-expanding space that will benefit young people throughout Dutchess County.”
MASS Design Group has been selected as the design consultant for the YOU, following a recent Request for Proposals and review by the County Legislature’s Architect/Engineer/Construction Management Consultant Selection Committee.
The City of Poughkeepsie took ownership of the property in 2019 after the site had been dormant for about a decade. Through its own public process, the City identified The 35 Montgomery Community Coalition as a group of stakeholders that would be instrumental in bringing the youth center to fruition. The Coalition includes Dutchess County Government, youth-oriented organizations, as well as education and healthcare leaders.
The City approved sale of the property to the County for $10 earlier this year, and the County Legislature has authorized acceptance of the property, while also declaring the County as lead agency and accepting a negative declaration in the State Environmental Quality Review process.
Once construction estimate costs are determined, County Executive Molinaro will request the County Legislature authorize an additional $15 million in bonding to complete the County’s $25 million commitment to the project.
An advisory board that will include county and city representatives, as well as members of the 35 Montgomery Community Coalition, will work to secure additional resources and funding for the project.