Town of Esopus Awarded New York Planning Federation’s Comprehensive Plan Award

The New York Planning Federation Comprehensive Plan Award is given to a municipality or agency for an outstanding and/or innovative comprehensive plan or plan update adopted within the past three years. This year’s Comprehensive Plan Award goes to the Town of Esposus.

The Plan was focused from the start on implementation, even before the Plan was adopted. What sets the Town of Esopus comprehensive planning approach apart from a standard planning process is that instead of waiting until the Plan was adopted to begin affecting change and improving the community, the Town continuously evaluated each idea, project and recommendation to determine if progress could be made immediately, identified and applied for grants and involved the community at all levels to guide Plan development. Public engagement was key to the Plan’s success and included open meetings of the Comprehensive Plan Committee, a community bus tour, two surveys, over eighteen stakeholder meetings, individual hamlet meetings, several workshops and hearings and robust social media outreach. An all-day open house in the spring of 2018 initiated the planning effort and was attended by over 150 residents and business owners. The Town partnered with Scenic Hudson to work on several important waterfront projects as part of the Comprehensive Plan process, including the John Burroughs Black Creek Trail project and the Esopus River Access and Connections Study.

The Town most recently released their Beautification Plan that lays out a series of projects to begin this spring (2021), including installation of new pavilions at Freer and Lighthouse Parks along with new welcome signs for all Town Hamlets. These projects are a joint effort between the Town and the local Bruderhof Communities, which is providing the majority of the funding for beautification projects. The Plan includes a detailed implementation matrix that breaks down the Town’s goals into achievable steps and identifies specific projects and funding sources. With all of this, the Plan also incorporates smart growth policies, farmland protection and development of agri-tourism, scenic resource and landmarks protection, and tools and mechanisms to plan for the impacts of climate change by advancing sustainable infrastructure and renewable energy systems development.

The nomination was supported by the Ulster County Legislature, Scenic Hudson, and John Burroughs Association, all of which participated throughout the planning process. Work on the Comprehensive Plan was overseen by a diverse Comprehensive Plan Committee, which included the Town Supervisor, members from the Town Board, Planning Board, Recreation Commission, Ulster County Legislature, Waterfront Advisory Board and others. The consultant team that helped prepare the Plan included Laberge Group, Engineering, Architecture, Surveying, Planning; E.M. Pemrick & Company, Economic Planning and Development Services; and Cardinal Direction, Landscape Architecture, PLLC.  NYPF would also like to acknowledge that Miles L. “Myles” Putman, AICP, Town Planner/Consultant for the Town of Esopus, passed away unexpectedly during preparation of the Esopus Comprehensive Plan. The Plan is dedicated to Miles in recognition of his work with the Town of Esopus and so many other Hudson River communities. The Plan states that “His passing is a huge loss to the planning profession and the communities he served.”

NEW YORK PLANNING FEDERATION is a non-profit membership organization established in 1937. Our mission is to promote sound planning and zoning practice throughout New York State. Membership, which currently includes nearly 10,000 individuals, is open to anyone supporting this mission. Membership categories include municipalities, counties, public organizations, private businesses, individuals, and libraries.