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April 19, 2006

Contact: Ian Michaels (718) 595-6600

DEP Announces Plans for $2.9 Million Rehabilitation of Belden House in Putnam County

Commissioner Emily Lloyd of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the DEP’s plans to renovate the historic Belden House in Putnam County.  The $2.9 million project will restore the exterior of the building to almost its original condition and will allow DEP to use part of the interior space for its local Land Management offices.

Additional office space will be provided in the building for the Friends of Belden House, which will also have the opportunity to decorate public areas of the building, including its main foyer.

“We are pleased to be able to coordinate with the County and with the Friends of Belden House to rehabilitate this historic structure,” said Commissioner Lloyd.  “The DEP’s investment in this project will guarantee the future of Belden House and help preserve an important part of the region’s heritage.  The City's land holdings have expanded considerably over the last ten years and the restoration of the Belden House will help our staff be exemplary land managers and continue to provide excellent recreation opportunities and water quality benefits.”

Bruce Heilman, Chair of The Friends of Belden House, said, “The Friends of Belden House, the Putnam County Coalition for Open Space and the over 600 people who have signed our petitions now know that we, in turn, have friends: the New York City DEP and the Administration of Putnam County.  With this announcement they are fulfilling our plea to ‘Save Belden House.’  We commend the DEP for their actions; it is the right thing to do.”

Ann Fanizzi, Chair of the Putnam County Coalition to Preserve Open Space and a member of the Friends of Belden House, said, “The campaign on behalf of the Belden House was a unique partnership and we realized our joint goal of preserving Belden House in the history of Putnam County.  We are very pleased that this historic treasure is being saved for all to enjoy.”

The project includes $400,000 for architectural/engineering design services and construction management, $500,000 for environmental remediation within the building of items such as lead paint and $2 million for construction.  Following a one-year design period, construction should begin in fall 2008 and take about 18 months to complete.

The original Carpenter Gothic-styled structure was built around 1760 by Thomas Belden.  A later descendent, George Mortimer Belden, transformed it into its modern appearance in the 1870’s by providing ornate wood doors and trim, decorative plaster moldings and marble fireplaces.  The City of New York acquired the house in 1896 during efforts to construct the West Branch Reservoir.  The house had been used as a residence for an on-site custodian, and later for City offices.  The house is located on Belden Road in Carmel, between the West Branch Reservoir and Lake Gleneida.

The project will enable DEP's Land Management Group to relocate from Mahopac.  This group, including land stewards, foresters and property managers, is responsible for managing the City's East of Hudson land holdings and recreation programs.  Belden House will also become the new location for rowboat steam cleaning.


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