Armory closures continue in Hudson Valley
Poughkeepsie, NY – Armories were once hubs for military personnel in a number of upstate New York cities. However, in a number of locations, the changes at armories are a sign of the times. WAMC's Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Greg Fry reports...
The Camp Smith Readiness Center in Westchester County is nothing short of state-of-the-art. The facility, which will be used by New York Army National Guard soldiers from across the region, was unveiled last week during a ribbon cutting ceremony. Its price tag? 30 million dollars, with a seven million dollar investment from New York state. Eric Durr is the Director of Public Affairs for the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs. He says the new facility will accommodate 350 soldiers, who will be able to use 21st century resources.
Durr adds that one unit, located at the Poughkeepsie Armory, will be shifting to Camp Smith. The end result will mean the closure of that Armory. Durr says the building is beautiful from the outside, but is more than 100 years old.
The responsibility for the sale of armories falls on the State Office of General Services. It's too early to determine what will be done with the Armory in Poughkeepsie. City officials have made no decision on what part they may play in the future of the armory. In Newburgh, the state armory is in the middle of a transformation into a community center. Mayor Nicholas Valentine says there isn't a weekend that goes by without an activity at the armory. However, the big question is what will plans to keep the city-run armory sustainable look like. Valentine says those plans should be coming soon.
The city purchased the armory for only one dollar, but took on all the negative aspects of the building - including renovations, which were conducted by agencies like Habitat for Humanity in Newburgh. Durr says the buildings are expensive to maintain, often don't heat well, and don't preserve well.
Newburgh Mayor Nicholas Valentine says the city examined what other upstate cities considered, when trying to decide what to do with an abandoned armory. Valentine says a number of cities they spoke with - none from around the Hudson Valley - said that adding the renovation of an armory was too much at this time. Others, though, agreed that there were numerous benefits.
With two of the Hudson Valley's three biggest cities soon to be without a functioning state armory, it's clear that the trend will continue. Durr says soldiers are now expected to be able to commute about 50 miles, and must be prepared to serve anywhere in New York.