What’s New?- ReStore and new visitors center

Noteworthy happenings in the Hudson Valley

Posted: Friday, October 22, 2010

ReStore Newburgh

The Habitat ReStore in Newburgh just celebrated two years of bringing the community gently used, and sometimes new, affordable furniture and lighting, and select building materials like solid wood doors, sinks, and kitchen cabinets. “We’ve kept 130,000 tons of material out of the landfill since we’ve been open,” says store manager Chris Knasiak, who lives in the City of Newburgh. ReStore occupies about 3,500 square feet of the 14,000 square foot Kimball building at 125 Washington Ave., with the remaining space used as the Habitat for Humanity greater Newburgh affiliate offices and to store construction equipment and material.

The structure was built in 1852 as a foundry, and made many of the water main and manhole covers for cities up and down the Hudson. More recently, it was used as a facility for auto parts and cleaning engines. “Habitat for Humanity bought the building about 5 years ago,” says Knasiak. “It was a labor of love, a huge renovation in partnership with members of the community.”

Knasiak says the house specialty is mid-century furnishings, and the store receives new goods every week. In addition to providing local residents with quality furnishings, all proceeds go toward providing decent, affordable housing in partnership with working families. The local affiliate is celebrating 10 years in the area, with 45 houses built, and currently on track for 8 to 10 houses a year.

The organization is heavily reliant on volunteers, and retirees are a big part of the force. “If you are interested in getting involved, enthusiasm and clothes you can get dirty are all you need,” says Knasiak. For volunteer work at the ReStore, orientation sessions are held the third Thursday of every month from 5:30pm to 6:30pm at 125 Washington St. in Newburgh.

Beacon gets a Vistors Center

Beacon general contractor and city councilperson George Mansfield knows a lot of people around town. That came in handy over the past year as he directed the construction of a visitors center at the western end of Main Street, directly across from City Hall. The city had received a grant for the center, and plans were made, but Mansfield felt the resulting design could be improved upon. “We have a tremendous pool of talented artisans and trades people in town,” he said. “I knew we could get more bang for our buck by tapping into our community.”

Mansfield volunteered to oversee the now expanded project, and set about rounding up a very long list of fellow volunteers. “Even in this economy, a lot of people jumped in to help without hesitation. It was contagious. The more people that volunteered, the more people there were who wanted to be part of it.” The new design is a blend of Beacon’s past and future, from the expansive windows that were taken from an abandoned local factory to the mural featuring local artists that will rotate every year or so.

The center will promote shopping and exploring in Beacon, and, due to the city’s position as the southern gateway to Dutchess County and the mid-Hudson Valley region, will also have information about these areas. As in the construction process, the center will be staffed by a mix of volunteers, from long-time residents who are retired to local students and newer arrivals.

The center is awaiting an official certificate of occupancy from the City, which will not be forthcoming until the money for the handicapped railing is secured and the rail put in place. Because of a tight city budget, the center may also be forced to close during winter months to save on utility costs.

Despite the bureaucratic glitches, and the fact that the project took significantly more energy than he imagined, Mansfield says the results—and the process—surpassed his expectations. “We’re all extremely proud of what it represents and what it looks like,” says Mansfield. “In these tough times the community came together. It’s a symbol of hope, and what we aspire to in the future.”

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