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Peekskill Plans Pump Track with Tourism in Mind

The City of Peekskill working to bring a pump track to its parkland.

While attending the Mountain Bike Festival in 2011, Peekskill Councilman Andrew Torres took the opportunity to meet with avid bicylists and ask them how to make Peekskill an even more attractive biking destination. He then lead discussions with the Westchester Mountain Biking Association, who offered to help the City of Peekskill build a pump track in the area.

A pump track is a continuous dirt loop of rollers and in-sloped turns on which bikers of all levels and ages can ride. Advanced cyclists do not even have to peddle on the trails, but use their upper and lower body strength to pump their bike throughout the course. Thus, the track is appropriately named.

"I would like the pump track to go through," Torres said. "It would give families something to do during hard economic times." Torres also emphasized the importance of providing fun family activities to help curb childhood obesity and promote physical fitness.

The council agreed that because Blue Mountain is already a well known and popular biking destination, a pump track would attract even more visitors to the area. They talked about leading marketing efforts that would promote the track and "spending a day in Peekskill," by eating lunch and shopping downtown.

Bicyclists will travel 50 to 100 miles to ride a pump track, City Planner Jean Friedman explained to the city council at its Feb. 14 work session. Friedman pointed out the track can be used by all skill levels, including children, is a good work out and presents a family-friendly and positive fitness activity.

She also explained that a number of local volunteers from the WMBA, who are anxious to have a track in the city, are eager to provide free labor and work on the project. The city would most likely need to budget about $5,000 from the Gap Fund and would receive about $5,000 worth of volunteer labor and would apply for a $10,000 grant for the project.

The track would be about 40 by 60 or 50 by 80 feet and the city is hoping to build it somewhere in Depew or Blue Mountain.

The next closest pump tracks in the area are in Inwood, Queens and New Jersey.

The council member were very supportive of the track. (Mayor Mary Foster and Councilman Don Bennet, and Councilman Andrew Torres were absent that night, but expressed support for the project at the next Council meeting on Feb. 22. Torres was absent due to a death in his immediate family.)

The council directed city staff to move forward with applying for the grant and other aspects of the project.

*Editor's Note: This article has been expanded to include more accurate information on how the idea of a pump track was brought to the City council (which was through Councilman Andrew Torres). The article has also been adjusted to clarify that all councilmembers and the mayor is supportive of the project.

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SPK February 21, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Liability concerns often kill such plans...hope this goes forward
Patty Villanova February 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM
THIS is how they're going to promote "tourism"? Talk about fiddling while Rome burns, leave it to Queen Mary and the Grand Klaxton to push another hare brained scheme that completely ignores the problem and the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. Attention City officials: except for the restaurants, your Downtown is dying; heck, I will go so far as to say it's dead. There is no more retail and no more shoppers. You have sunk many millions of taxpayer dollars into phony projects and the BID, yet nothing changes, things only get worse. Look around at the other River towns and see how they've prospered. But not Peekskill. We could be the best, better than Beacon even, but it never happens. Year after year it's the same thing- more BS from the crooked politicians who all seem to be doing just fine.
notsurprisedonebit February 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM
All this while Main St. continues to fall down and become abandoned. Even the Ecuadorian businesses are going out of business. The block from Kurzhall's to the Birdsall House is now empty except for one deli. Busy Corner is abandoned. This city continues to go down, but these idiots that move in from out of town continue to elect these idiots to run the city!!
Patty Villanova February 21, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Totally agree. Ask any old timer what the City was like in the 1950s when it was thriving; Downtown was filled with shops and businesses. Fast forward and it's become a third world city, where English has become a second language and most of the shop signage is in Spanish. Go to any town like Cold Spring, Mt. Kisco, Katonah, etc. and look around. I assure you that none of them would allow even one "business" like Herj's Misc Express, the make believe fabric store, the mingling clubs or any of the other phony shops that are fronts for everything from prostitution to drug dealing. Why have they been allowed (by generations of corrupt politicians of both parties) to take over our beautiful downtown? Why is it that the politicians want to keep Peekskill poor and a welfare town? The answer is simple: follow the money trail. (not the Yellow Brick Road)
Frank J February 21, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Considering there are positions in the BID that no one is running for, why don't one of you. You seem to be dissatisfied and taking part in the system might be a good way to change it.
Peter Goodson February 21, 2012 at 01:28 PM
The situation of Peekskill has now gone from being a joke to sad and critical. This is what they are talking about at city council meetings? What about the pending bankruptcy the city faces because of these "idiots" (thanks Rich). What about the environmental problems on South Street, the loss of business, the horrible conditions in the neighborhoods, the out of control crime and drugs? These people are clueless. And, why do so many council members, and the mayor, miss meetings so much? Claxton always seems to be absent and Foster misses quite a bit herself. It is only February and I think every member has missed meetings already. These people do not care about Peekskill or the job they hold. We have the lowest level of government officials ever in Peekskill. We are doomed.
Patty Villanova February 21, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Been there, done that. I was on the BID board and served as chairman for almost a year. I worked untold hours as an unpaid volunteer to try and get the BID to do what it was supposed to do. I uncovered many questionable practices and there was an audit by the Comptroller's office. I was then removed from office for being a whistleblower. Too much to write about here. Suffice to say that the BID is broken beyond repair and only getting worse under the new exec director and the Permanent Chairwoman. The answer is to abolish it. Let the taxpayers keep their money. Let the highly paid City planners and Ec Dev specialists do their jobs. If they did, there'd be no need for the BID. But again, too many people are getting rich and getting personal financial gain. All in violation of the City and State ethics law.
Patty Villanova February 21, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Thanks to everyone who is taking time out to comment. As long as there are people out there who genuinely care about our city, there is still at least a glimmer of hope. Sadly, in my case, it is fading fast. There needs to be a third party created that will field strong candidates. One at a time you have to take out the current batch of miscreants that are running things now. Klaxton has been there way too long and has many conflicts of interest that go unchallenged. Same thing with Foster and Bennett. The problem is that the majority of residents don't vote. There is apathy which opens the door for continued control by the vested interests and other voting blocs such as emergency services personnel who are pushing the disastrous firehouse project. Think it's bad now? Wait till you have the fire engines zooming around downtown with sirens blasting on Saturday and Sunday. You think the Quiet Man will still be able to hear himself think?
Marina Ciotti February 21, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I’m a road cyclist and I have never heard of a pump track. It sounds very cool and I may need to give it a whirl when it’s completed. I think this type of venue would attract more visitors and open the biking experience to adults and kids that haven’t been on their bike in years. I say, dust off your bikes and go for a ride! What a great way to spend outdoors with family and friends. Blue Mountain is already well known in mountain bike circles. Its ranked 6th out of a 100 “BEST” in New York single track trails according to Singletracks.com. This would just further cement Peekskill’s reputation of being a place to go for the best mountain biking around. http://www.singletracks.com/mountain-bike/best_trails.php?state=33
Andrew February 21, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Andrew Torres, Councilman Back in summer of 2011 I went to the Mountain bike festival at Blue Mountain. I met and spoke to many mountain bicyclist from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Conn., NJ and from different cities, towns, and villages in Westchester. They all stated that Peekskill was the place to go to ride their mountain bicycles. I asked these persons if they would like to meet with me to discuss ideas to make Peekskill a friendlier bicycling city. In August I met with a few of them and we came up with a few ideas. The pump track was one of them. This is a fun family activity that is sweeping the country. This activity will provide a new way for families to play together and as well as help them to better their bicycling skills. In addition it will provide an added attraction to come to Peekskill (which will increase the foot traffic in our city). At a time when physical activity of our children has hit an all time low, and our economy has impacted on what families can do together, this City activity will help families stay healthy and have fun doing it together.
Patty Villanova February 21, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Councilman Torres: Have you been brain-dead during your time as an elected official of Peekskill? Do you ever walk around downtown and talk to the remaining business owners to find out how they feel about their investment in the city that you are helping to oversee? As usual with liberal Dems like yourself, you are pushing a socialist nanny state agenda: "let the State worry about your family's health and well being. We'll take care of you." Meanwhile, the tax burden on the remaining citizens who are not on the dole continues to climb with no end in sight. If you honestly think that a pump track is going to solve our problems, I have a nice business in downtown Peekskill that I want to sell you.
John Murray February 21, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Nice post, Marina. I wouldnt know a pump track from a tire pump, but I think this is a great idea. I'll echo your thoughts on Peeksill having a good reputaiton in biking circles, I've heard that from co-workers in NJ.
Peter Goodson February 21, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Sorry, but this is getting out of hand. Marina, you are the Chairman of the Peekskill Democratic Party so you are just shilling for your friends and trying to fool readers who don't know any better. Andrew, paaaalease, biking is not a big draw and you know it. If you and your other council members spent their time better maybe we could get somewhere. Instead of wasting time on useless things as a bike track that will never be built because of cost and insurance maybe you find out how to keep the city from going further down the toilet. Maybe you can get your other members to stop taking care of their own businesses and downtown buildings they own, or the ones their friends own, and actually do your job. Are you really going forward with eminent domain to build a firehouse in the downtown?
Mary Jane February 21, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Holy Toledo. Andrew, are kidding me??? You are part of an administration that is about to put a family to the street for the sake of a brick and mortar monument to yourself and your cronies. A family whose heritage you share, I might add. A family who came here, like you, with the dream to invest here, provide for the family, and contribute to the local economy. A pump track is on your list of priorities? I would like to know also. Are you moving forward with eminent domain to put a family to the street and ANOTHER local business out of business? Yes or no?
peekskillman February 21, 2012 at 11:54 PM
the silence on this question will be deafening, but here is some more info on that topic according to my sources: -the firehouse was "promised" to the volunteers prior to the elections -the 3 fire chiefs on the committe are volunteers, who work outside the city, use city cars to commute, and wont go against the administration for fear of losing their perks -the station has accomodations for 6 offices, 6 closets, and 6 storage rooms for each of the volunteer companies-why cant they all share one space, and what is the extra cost -the majority of the committee members are volunteers, and they and their families vote -emminent domain was a topic of debate under the mayor's and some council members' first term, which they vehemently were agains-what a difference another election and a year or so can do to change their mind -agree with the above posters-what is this family going to do now that they may lose their only? source of income-instead of helping those that have sunk money and roots in this city, they opt to force them out for a non-tax generating building, instead of repairing the existing-btw, why were the existing buildings allowed to go downhill for so long, a previous fire chief was a building inspector, what did he do on his watch lies and foolishness is abounding on Main St
John Q. Public February 22, 2012 at 12:10 AM
To hear Marina and other Democrats speak, it's plain that addressing the problem of prostitution and drugs is not a Democratic Party priority, and you just have to read who funds them to know why. Years ago the Democrats declared they would do anything to prevent Target from moving to Peekskill so some member of the School Board could build a skating rink for her son. Pathetic. It's a great step that Democrats are now so open about how little they care about Peekskill. Maybe some people will rise to the occasion. This article is indicative of the perilous path Democrats plan fo Peekskill..
Liz Claire February 22, 2012 at 12:22 AM
JQP lets talk basic facts the press won't report. We have a Mayor who has an illegal apartment abover her garage. We have a Deputy Mayor who has a house that was subject to an as-yet uninvestigated murder and the City is subject to huge financial exposure for the murder of Angela Correra which has ties to her family. The legal papers say "Freddy those eyes" and a public official was in a position to influence the discretion of the police. This is bad. And then we have the shill who works for the most corrupt serving Congressman. Peekskill is second to Chicago in being the most corrupt City in the US.
tom February 22, 2012 at 03:52 AM
I'm not even understanding this one. Most aren't going to ride their bikes into downtown Peekskill. They'll put them back on their car racks and drive to where they came from. Not to mention will this put added strain on from what I see an already strained emergency medical services in the area? I still think developing the area of water street with nice commercial retail and dining space much like what you see in places like the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and other places down south would bring people in. Atmosphere and nice shops. I don't think any municipal area can be compared to how things were in the 80's less the 50's. Retail business has changed with the advent of department stores and now large big box retail stores. Much of what is happening here happened to many other localities long before it happened here with the incoming of the walmarts, targets, home depots etc. Its both sad and frightening. Liz...I'm not understanding what some of your points are because they are vague. But one thing I can say is I remember the time frame of the Correa murder as she was a classmate. Its sad to see what happened in the end with that. But what public official had position to influence the police? And the person who confessed after the DNA came back was and still is in prison. Also...can't agree with the corruption point...there very well might be some...but I can assure you there are hundreds worse.
dave wilson February 22, 2012 at 04:00 AM
I'm simply amazed at Patty V.'s negativity concerning downtown Peekskill. Now, she's my FB friend, but c'mon, downtown Peekskill is one the most happening downtowns at night in Westchester County. And in northern Westchestern and Putnam, it has the region's best night life. There's the Paramount, with nationally known acts. Then there's all the action on Division Street, with 12 Grapes bringing in top bands four nights a week, serving fine American cuisine and serving up some top-shelf wine. Across the street, Rubens attracts a great crowd, with live music, on weekends. Division Street Grill has live music as well. So does the Bean Runner Cafe. Around the corner you'd find the Birdsall Pub. I like the idea. it will bring people to Peekskill, and bring people into Peekskill's parks. Teenage boys on bikes will like it, and this will be a great recreational resource for our region. it will promote healthy living and draw cyclists to town. In our region, some cyclists have expensive bikes, and they spend money when they come to town. I applaud Peekskill's initiative and hope to get involved in promoting it. Thanks for the fine article! David Wilson Executive Director Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam
andrew voelkel February 22, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Blue Mountain is a county park...How can a City councilman make that happen in a Cnty.Park?Is this going to be part of an upgrade for Depew Park? I see the bikes on the cars coming and going on Welcher Ave.but I don't see them stopping @ the Deli's,Pizza shops or gas stations right outside the Park!!!
andrew voelkel February 22, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Councilman Torres,Please help me with a problem @ the Kiley Youth Center? My son plays in the Peeks.Rec .Hoops league since November and 1/3 of the lights in the Gym Have been out since then!When they practice and Play @ night it's very shadowy in there.We also play against visiting teamsfrom other towns and we don't showcase ourselves because of this.Please maintain one of our already functioning Recreation Centers before you fund any other future endeavors!!!
Patty Villanova February 22, 2012 at 12:11 PM
To my esteemed colleague, Dave Wilson: Back in the day when you were a newspaper reporter, you may very well have done some stories on Peekskill-- Lord knows that there's enough political intrigue to fill any number of books. I have had a small business here for the past 7 years and have firsthand experience with the trials and tribulations of any entrepreneur who is foolhardy enough to try and make a go of it in this fair city. The truth is that I love Peekskill and have been coming here since 1955 when my family moved to Put Valley. When I opened my shop I was part of a wave of new businesses whose owners, like me, had believed all the hype that was current at the time; in short we thought Peek. was going to be the new Soho on the Hudson. Sadly we were mistaken - as it turned out, the entrenched corrupto-crats who run things want to keep the downtown as it is- a 3rd world enclave that they can manipulate to their advantage. This isn't about pump trails. It's about pumped up politicians who are only in it for money & power. Something that you may recall from your own journalistic experience. If you're interested, contact me offline to chat or on FB. There's way more here than meets the eye. Meanwhile, happy trails to you!
bernie stringer February 22, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I think it's only natural as Peekskill becomes known that visitors will stop for coffee, ice cream, beer and similar treats after using the pump track. Blue Mountain is already a destination for bikers. It makes sense to me to enhance it.
Peter Goodson February 22, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Good point Andrew - Blue Mt. is not a city park so how could the city government plan anything there? Who would pay for it? Insurance payments? Maintenance costs? Bernie - there are no places to stop near Blue Mt. The cars will travel Rt. 9 , come up Welcher and then go back down to Rt. 9 to go home. This is just another unrealistic "feel good" story to hide the real problems in the city and the do nothing council that only takes care of themselves.
Liz Claire February 22, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Peter, when has something like established law or the City Charter ever prevented the current Common Council from doing anything? They just "borrowed" an additional $900,000 from the Water Fund, something they said never should be done. This must mean Foster et al have squandered Peekskill's fund balance in pursuit of what they once called "vaporware" projects. We know where the debt is, but where's the beef?
Lenny February 22, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Peekskillman I don't know where you get this information from. The new firehouse doesn't have everything your stating in it, as a member of the committee I know this. As far as your statement about the chiefs and there perks I am the Chief of the fire department, im a city resident who has house and business here in this city in which I pay taxes on. I don't understand how you can make the statement that I commute out of the city to work. Why don't you try and volunteer and spend time in my shoes getting up all hours of the night to protect the residence of this city. Why not try and contact me instead of hiding cowardly behind a computer screen if you have questions. I can be reached on Monday nights from 7-9 at the firehouse on Washington St. Lenny Varella Jr. Chief Peekskill Fire Department
Peter Goodson February 22, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Liz - if you are correct than how could the city possibly be contemplating borrowing over $20 million for a new firehouse? This is just simply reckless and uncalled for. I don't see how a judge will allow the city to destroy homes, businesses and the entire business district of the city for an unneeded firehouse! Is it legal to take money from the water fund like that? I know the tax rate is above the tax cap at 3.5% so how do they continually get away with all of this? Why aren't the people of Peekskill outraged over this administration? Are there any legal agencies that can come and review what is going on?
Scott Sailor February 24, 2012 at 03:20 PM
The proposed pump track and beginner level trails in Depew Park is a great idea for a number of reasons. One, it's dirt cheap. Two, it's unique to the area. No others exist anywhere near here. Doing things that are unique and interesting is how small towns and citys can distinguish themselves. Third, it piggybacks on the success of Blue Mtn's reknown as a mtn bike destination not only by offering an alternate way to access those trails but by offering something for beginner level riders and families who are intimidated by the harder terrain of blue mtn. As a business owner downtown (bruised apple) who understands how being unique helps survival in a crowded and homogenized society I see this project as an atypically progressive venture for a city not normally that creative. Plus, I think it will be great fun for a lot of local kids and families. Seems like a very low risk and potentially high reward project.
Scott Sailor February 24, 2012 at 03:34 PM
And as far as attracting business is concerned, it likely will do that. People do get hungry and thirsty after biking, and we've got lots of good food and drink downtown. A simple kiosk at the parking lot/trailhead with a map and description of nearby downtown will work well. I've spent lots of money in other communities like this for similar reasons (biking and hiking trails, as well as whitewater kayaking parks). If you've ever been to a town that has cool outdoorsy stuff to do nearby you know what I'm talking about. It trickles over to the proximal retail shops too. I simply can't understand why so many folks are hating on this, unless they just need to vent some anger over other issues and have lost some objectivity.
dleighg February 24, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Scott I agree, this sounds like a good idea, certainly worth looking into. Somehow people get their priorities screwed up to the point that it's as if a city can do only ONE thing at a time, and because there are other things that need to be fixed, one can't do some other thing. This doesn't sound like a big outlay of money, and could do some good for the area.

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