New Paltz Community Foundation hands over funds to Millbrook Preserve

President of the New Paltz Community Foundation Eileen Gulbrandsen Glenn hands over funds to Millbrook Preserve President Tal Ilany Seweryn. Behind Glenn are Community Foundation members, Sue Diamond, Mike Beck, Bob McKenna and Stewart Glenn. Behind Seweryn are Millbrook Preserve members Lynn Bowdery, Jim Delaune and Gerald Benjamin. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Along with the passing of the torch came the passing of the check, as representatives of Millbrook Preserve, Inc. (MBPI) and the New Paltz Community Foundation (NPCF) gathered on Friday morning, August 2 at the Preserve’s trailhead on North Manheim Boulevard. The ceremony marked the Preserve’s coming of age as an official not-for-profit organization, legally able to do its own fundraising. MBPI was granted 501 (c) (3) status under federal tax law effective October 2018, five months after the signing of an agreement among the Town and Village of New Paltz and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust granting MBPI the right to manage the Preserve henceforward.

Prior to this legal recognition, all monetary contributions to the Preserve were funneled through NPCF, which since 2001 has often served in the capacity of umbrella organization for fundraising for startup nonprofits in New Paltz and Gardiner. Donations in support of the Preserve can now be paid directly, via a PayPal link on MBPI’s website at http://millbrookpreserve.org. And individuals or groups who wish to organize a fundraiser — such as by seeking sponsors for participation in an event, as Dennis Moore did when he ran in the New York Marathon — can now set it up directly via MBPI’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/millbrookpreserve.

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On hand for the August 2 ceremony were MBPI president Tal Ilany Seweryn and board members Lynn Bowdery, Jim Delaune and Dr. Gerald Benjamin, along with NPCF’s president Eileen Gulbrandsen Glenn, vice president Robert McKenna, secretary Stewart P. Glenn, treasurer Michael Beck and board member Susan Diamond. Community Foundation officials handed over checks totaling $26,623.28 to Liany Seweryn. The money held by the NPCF had come from the McBride Endowment, Bruce McKinney, the Mohonk Preserve and a variety of smaller donors.

“New Paltz Community Foundation, Inc. was pleased to be able to again serve as a conduit for an important project in the Village and Town of New Paltz,” Gulbrandsen Glenn said of the project coming to an end with the funds transfer.

The Millbrook Preserve comprises 134 acres of land to be kept forever wild, located partly in the Village of New Paltz and partly in the Town of New Paltz and stretching from behind Duzine Elementary School to the grounds of Woodland Pond. According to its mission statement, it was “created to preserve open space; conserve biodiversity and wildlife habitats; to allow the existing natural systems to provide flood protection, erosion control, drainage and other natural functions; and to provide recreational and educational opportunities for residents and visitors.”

In an official statement expressing its gratitude for NPCF’s assistance, MBPI outlined its projected next steps. These include relieving the Town and Village of the day-to-day details of management; fundraising for permitted improvements and programs; recruiting volunteers; establishing the preserve entrances with clear signage; opening more parking and creating access that minimizes impact on the surrounding neighborhoods; and updating the website to include a calendar of events. The latter may include BioBlitz-style citizen science opportunities, walks led by naturalists/biologists, volunteer trail days, fundraising events and public forums.

Longer-term goals outlined in the Millbrook Preserve Management Plan include improving the existing trail system via strategically placed interpretive and locational signage, along with enhancements such as kiosks, observation platforms, wooden bridges over streams and bog bridges over marshy areas. A map of the established trails can be downloaded at http://millbrookpreserve.org/trail-map. Residents interested in volunteering with MBPI are asked to e-mail Julie Seyfert Lillis at executivedirector@millbrookpreserve.org.