In a recent New York Magazine “Welcome to Newburgh, Murder Capital of New York,” Newburgh Mayor Nicholas Valentine likened Peekskill, along with Poughkeepsie, to dead communities. In it, he said:
It feels almost spooky to walk today among the Gilded Age mansions of long-dead industrialists on Montgomery Street, some of them boarded up, others carved into low-income apartments. Abandoned buildings abound, many of them gone to rot. “We’re not unique,” Nicholas Valentine, a local tailor who serves as Newburgh’s mayor, tells me. “It’s happened to many communities up and down the Hudson. Poughkeepsie. Peekskill. Things die.
Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster responded to the remarks in a letter to Valentine, saying that he should come visit Peekskill, a “growing, vibrant and friendly city. Her letter is posted below.
This is not the first time Foster has come to Peekskill’s defense. Last year, a Saturday Night Live skit characterized the city as a “hellhole” where residents are “freaks” and “rock eaters.” Foster then invited SNL writers to Peekskill to catch a show at the Paramount and/or other visit other cultural activities the city has to offer.
Dear Mayor Valentine,
I read with great surprise your comments in a recent New York Magazine article that profiled Newburgh and its difficulties in dealing with growing crime. In the article you characterized the City of Peekskill as a “dead town.” While troubled at first, I realized perhaps you haven’t visited our great City in the last several years and may be unaware of the progress we have made in Peekskill reclaiming our reputation as a growing, vibrant and friendly city. In fact, the City of Peekskill has been profiled recently in the New York Times, Westchester Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal for its cultural, dining and entertainment offerings and is frequently profiled in the Gannett papers for its outdoor music festivals, celebrations, museum openings and mountain bike festivals and competitions.
Peekskill, like many former industrial towns along the Hudson River has experienced difficult times in the last three decades. However, over the last few years we have reclaimed our reputation as a regional destination by keeping our tax base stable; promoting a lively growing music and arts scene, stepping up law enforcement, and making strategic, modest investments in our infrastructure and building stock. I would like to show you around and talk about the actions we are taking to fulfill our goal of Peekskill as the cultural, entertainment, dining and business hub of the region.
Peekskill still has its challenges as all cities do. We are very pleased and proud of our accomplishments in revitalizing our community to such a point that it is now an entertainment destination around the region. I would like to invite you to join me for a day trip to our great City. We can chat over a cup of coffee at the Peekskill Coffee House, or if you prefer tea, I will reserve at a table at Kathleen’s Tea Room. For lunch, I highly recommend soup and salad at the BeanRunner Café or perhaps the Gorgonzola Chicken from the Division Street Grill. Our dinner options are varied, and range from Italian at Ciro’s to imaginative gourmet at Zeph’s. As far as entertainment, if you are looking for a concert, Bryan Adams will be at the Paramount Center for the Arts in January, or if you want a smaller venue, we can always catch Curtis Winchester at 12 Grapes Wine and Music Bar.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t invite you out to grab a beer after a show. Peekskill has gotten quite a reputation for its wide, varied, and eclectic brew pubs and craft beer offerings. In fact, we have several locally brewed ales at the Peekskill Brewery; but if you crave the taste of Guinness, we can grab one at our newly opened authentic Irish pub called the Quiet Man Public House. The owners of Manhattan’s famous Blind Tiger Ale House operate the Birdsall House restaurant and beer garden, where besides finding the most expansive menu of craft beers in the county, you can grab the bacon maple ice cream, which is a smash hit.
To make sure we cover all the attractions as well as the areas we are still working on developing, we’ll have “Stella”, our local tourist trolley, get us around town. No need to drive.
As you can tell I like to show off what Peekskill has to offer and I firmly believe that our model of success can serve as a blueprint for other communities seeking to do the same. I’d really enjoy the opportunity to discuss not only our successes but also the successes you have had in Newburgh and your strategies for moving your historic city forward.
With best regards,
Mayor Mary F. Foster