A ribbon-cutting to celebrate the reopening of Malcolm X Park took place Thursday, June 8, 2023, hosted by the City of Poughkeepsie, New City Parks, and Scenic Hudson.
Speakers included Mayor Marc Nelson, Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil, New City Parks Executive Director Rose Harvey, Scenic Hudson Land Trust and Land Programs Executive Director Seth McKee, and Ernest Henry, Executive Director of the Hudson Valley Re-Entry Network. Harvey also read a statement from Dr. Edward Pittman, describing how he and a small group of high school students petitioned the city government back in 1978 to change the park’s name to Malcolm X Park. The Mighty Young Techs began the event by leading the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Malcolm X Park is located in the 3rd Ward, alongside the Fall Kill Creek. The park’s recreational facilities had suffered from years of deferred maintenance, and its location on the edge of the Fall Kill posed environmental challenges. In 2020, the city committed to restoring and revitalizing the park by partnering with New City Parks and Scenic Hudson to work with community partners to re-design and restore the park, building on years of community advocacy for the refurbishment of the park’s recreational facilities as well as the preservation of Malcolm X’s legacy.
Harvey said, “New City Parks has been honored and privileged to work side by side with the city, Scenic Hudson, and the community to translate the vision of all the users into a buildable park, raising public dollars for its construction and providing seed funding to program and steward the park for the future. Malcolm X Park is aptly named, and will provide access to nature, social connection, fun and play to everyone.”
Additionally, the city received funding from New York State’s Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) to add new green infrastructure elements into the newly restored park.
EFC’s President & CEO Maureen A. Coleman said, “EFC celebrates with the City of Poughkeepsie the completion of improvements to Malcolm X Park. EFC is pleased to have provided a $355,000 grant in support of this community resource that provides recreational opportunities for residents and visitors. Green infrastructure elements provide shade and habitat, combat urban heat island effects, improve air quality, and mitigate stormwater run-off to improve water quality in Fall Kill Creek and the Hudson River watershed. Under the leadership of Governor Hochul, EFC’s Green Innovation Grant Program supports projects across the state that utilize green stormwater infrastructure design and create cutting-edge green technologies. EFC has awarded $223 million through program since its inception, and EFC looks forward to announcing the next round of awards later this year.”
Visitors to the park can now enjoy newly installed playground equipment, a new pavilion, newly resurfaced basketball courts with new hoops, backboards and bleachers, many new trees and native shrubs, a new walking path, benches, tables, and grills, and a new community designed and painted mural honoring Malcolm X’s legacy.
Seth McKee, executive director of The Scenic Hudson Land Trust and Land Programs, said, “Malcolm X spoke of Pride, of Autonomy, and of Reconciliation — this park honors his name through opportunities to connect with the outdoors and with each other. Scenic Hudson is gratified to partner with the City of Poughkeepsie, New City Parks, the State Environmental Facilities Corporation, and many other partners, in a brighter future for Malcolm X Park, and for the families and children who live around it.”
The city's Department of Engineering oversaw the reconstruction of the park. The city, New City Parks and Scenic Hudson also worked with community partners, including Northside residents, Beulah Baptist Church, Morse Magnet Charter School, MASS Design Group, the Art Effect, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Ecological Citizens, and the Northside Collaborative.
Mayor Nelson said, “We are so grateful to our many community partners who helped bring this beautiful project to fruition. The city has put substantial financial resources into its parks in recent years, realizing they are enjoyed by everyone, from youth to seniors. We also look forward to all the community events that will be held by organizations making great use of the park. Malcolm X Park is a gem, and these renovations are a testament to what happens when government and community organizations come together to make vast and important improvements to our city.”
The city is working with community partners to provide ongoing maintenance as well as programming in the park: scheduled events include youth and adult basketball leagues, pop-up art classes, cultural celebrations, a summer day camp, and Aqua Blitz programming on the Fall Kill Creek.