The next phase of Tilly Foster Farm in Brewster was discussed during the second public meeting that was held on Thursday, March 27 at the TOPS building in Carmel. About 50 members of the public joined the Tilly Foster subcommittee chairmen in an open dialogue about what the county should do with the 199-acre property.
Tilly Foster Farm is a Putnam County owned property that was bought by Putnam County using money from the East of Hudson (EOH) Water Quality Funds in 2002. In buying the farm, Putnam was required to establish a conservation easement with the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC). The conservation easement is a legally binding agreement which places permanent restrictions in order to protect certain natural resources on the property.
County Executive, MaryEllen Odell has charged the Tilly Foster Task Force with developing a comprehensive plan that retains the agricultural nature of the farm while being financially and environmentally responsible and providing social and historic stewardships.
“The objective of this meeting is to begin the process of brainstorming ideas within the 11 respective sub committees and to compile those ideas into a format that can be submitted to the Core Team in order to provide a framework for the next public meeting,” said Deputy County Executive Bruce Walker, who is chairing the Tilly Foster Core Team.
After Walker gave a brief overview of what has already been done and the plan moving forward, the subcommittees broke off into two groups and the residents were able to choose which meeting they wanted to participate in. The Business/Economic Development, Grant Opportunities, Historical, Parks & Recreation, Tourism and Transportation subcommittees met in Room 1. In Room 2 the Agriculture, Education, Equestrian, Health, Infrastructure and Soil & Water subcommittees met.
Both groups discussed the importance of coming up with ideas that would make the farm self-sustaining. Bringing in a farm-to-table restaurant, creating snowshoeing and cross country skiing trails, community farming and garden options, hosting education programs, equestrian boarding, establishing historic museums as well as hosting a farmers market and other events were all suggested as possible uses of the farm.
Problems such as the lack of public bathrooms and parking were also identified.
“I believe the meetings were very productive and successful,” said Walker. “To have the participation of 50 people from the community, many who are experts in their respective fields; who are passionate about what happens at Tilly Foster to assist us in creating the future was great. Many ideas were introduced and will be reviewed by the team over the next month.”
Videos of the meetings are currently available on the county website atwww.putnamcountyny.com/tillyfoster/ .
The next public meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 5 at the TOPS Building, located at the Donald B. Smith Campus,112 Old Route 6 in Carmel.
People interested in learning more about the farm should visit the County website at: www.putnamcountyny.gov/TillyFoster. Emails from those wishing to volunteer on one or more of the subcommittees should be sent to: TillyFoster@PutnamCountyNY.gov.