Hyde Park should promote heritage tourism

County historian cites FDR home, Vanderbilt mansion at town board workshop

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As part of the workshop portion of its Nov. 18 meeting, the Town Board heard County Historian William Tatum report on increasing local area tourism under the Heritage Tourism program.

In an attempt to compete with tourism at historical sites in Massachusetts and Virginia, among other states, Dutchess County and New York State are seeking to enhance their historical attractions in order to draw travelers from outside the local area, Tatum said, adding, “Hyde Park is best suited for this with its Roosevelt and Vanderbilt sites.”

Tatum, who has worked closely with County Clerk Brad Kendall, since 2012, stressed the importance of attracting tourists from outside the county because that would create new revenue sources for local communities and businesses.

“No one wants to see shortfalls in revenue covered by raising taxes,” he said.

He indicated that the state and county are ready to assist Hyde Park, and other communities, with programs designed to create increased tourism.

In response, Supervisor Aileen Rohr said, “We are currently looking for a town historian to care for our local historical documents and work with the county historian’s office.”

She and Tatum agreed that Hyde Park could get its local Historical Association and the National Park Service, which runs the FDR home and library and the Vanderbilt estate, to dialogue and continue to encourage a walkable community.

Tatum also pointed out that Rhinebeck and Pawling have focused on their core areas to encourage visitors to spend more time in the area, and that Hyde Park could do the same.

One of the ideas presented by the board was a Visual Environment Committee idea about a spring daffodil festival, since the arterial areas along Routes 9 and 9G are now being enhanced with huge numbers of daffodil bulbs, which will lead to colorful thoroughfares in the spring.

While the county advances its Heritage Tourism program, Tatum reminded the board that the town would serve as a facilitator for any proposed activities by providing police services for any road closures during celebrations and stressing the importance of historical preservation throughout the town.

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