Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

From the Riverfront to Fort Hill to Depew and Tompkins, citizens volunteer to Cleanup Peekskill

Earth Day 2024 events

On April 22, 1970 the first Earth Day was held in the United States. Since then, has been mobilizing over 1 billion people across 193 countries annually on Earth Day, and every other day, to protect the planet. The official theme for 2024 is “Planet vs. Plastics”. The organization is calling for a 60 percent global reduction in plastic production by 2040 and is also bringing public attention to the health threat that microplastics pose. Next year will be the 55th anniversary of Earth Day. 

City of Peekskill Annual Parks Clean Up Day

Every year the Peekskill Parks and Recreation, the Peekskill DPW, The City of Peekskill and a slew of volunteers and organizations come together to help cleanup Peekskill to make the City and the parks look the way they always should look: clean and free of garbage. 

The Annual Peekskill Parks Clean Up Day is Saturday, April 20th from 8:00 am – 11:30 am. Dana Dapson of the Peekskill Parks and Recreation said, “there is plenty of room for more volunteers to come and help with the cleaning up of any of the parks in Peekskill.” 

“Anyone who would like to volunteer can call the Parks and Recreation Department at (914) 734-7275 and signup. There is also a flyer that is online that can be filled out and returned to the Rec office.” For those who haven’t made plans yet, Dapson says, “people can also show up the day of the event to lend a hand but it would be best to show up to Riverfront or Depew since we will have staff there.” She continued, “we do have supplies; bags, picks, grabbers and gloves.  If anyone has their own picker, grabber or gloves it is helpful for them to bring them.” 

Dapson said, “we would love for every park to get a helping hand and hopefully we get volunteers to help do it. Currently, we are focused on Riverfront, Depew Park, Tompkins Park on the corner of Park & Finch street, as well as Franklin Park.” Other parks that need some love to include Monument Park and Lepore Park. Afterwards, there will be refreshments for all participants at the Riverfront Green Park per the City of Peekskill Facebook page

Gene Panczenko heading up the cleanup at Fort Hill (a 30 year love affair)

Gene Panczenko will once again be heading up the cleanup effort at Fort Hill Park beginning at 9:00 am on Saturday, April 20th. “I adopted Fort Hill Park when my wife, Phyllis, and I moved to Peekskill in 1994. By ourselves at first, then joining forces with like minded folks. I didn’t start taking group photos until much later.” Gene wants everyone in Peekskill to know Fort Hill is “a small park, and each year there is less to clean up.” 

Photo grid courtesy of Gene Panczenko

Gene will be providing bags and water. He adds, “those interested in helping with the cleanup to bring a pair of gloves and your own picker-upper, if you have one to help.”  He continued, “I hope to see many of my old neighbors there, as well as meeting new ones. See you at the park entrance on Decatur Ave.” He finished off our conversation saying, “I encourage people to come to explore and enjoy this underutilized gem. So few people, even those born and raised here, even know about this place.”

Gene is also a steadfast member of the #PeekskillCleanRoutine which gets together once a month and finds different places throughout the City that need a good cleaning and freshens it up beautifying the City one cleanup at a time.

From its roots as a Revolutionary War redoubt and barracks, to a place of repose for the Community of St. Mary’s convent, to the lores told by David Klotzle to elementary school kids from the top of the hill about Captian Kidd’s treasures being buried across the Hudson River on Dunderberg Mountain, and the lore of the Leatherman passing through Peekskill and possibly making the Fort Hill area on of his many stops, Fort Hill has been hidden gem in Peekskill.

In the mid-1990’s there were plans to develop much of the land attached to Fort Hill that was not parkland. After a hard fought battle against development, Gene and the Fort Hill Homeowners Alliance were able to defeat that plan when the Ginsburg Development Corporation (GDC), who built the Abbey Inn and Spa and Fort Hill Apartments, donated over 52 acres of adjoining land to Peekskill, making it public land forever, creating a 60-acre park that residents can hike and walk year round. Gene can be speaking at the press conference upon the GDC land donation in a short YouTube clip here.

Most recently, Fort Hill was able to get some much love when NYS Senator Pete Harckham was able to secure $370,000 to enhance the park and make numerous improvements. Improvements included the stone steps restoration, timber boardwalks placed over wetland areas, platforms and benches, wayfinding signs, and trail blazes. The street entrances also received  kiosks with welcome signs and trail maps and bike racks.

Friends of the Peekskill Dog Park & Peekskill Community Garden Cleanup at Tompkins Park

The Friends of the Peekskill Dog Park and the Peekskill Community Garden are celebrating Earth Day as they lead the efforts on April 20, 2024 from 12 pm – 4pm at Tompkins Park. Sabina Flagg, President of the Friends of the Peekskill Dog Park said, “We invite all of our Peekskill neighbors to join us in the third annual celebration of Earth Day by doing what helps restore our communities and the planet. Every choice we make to live more sustainably and every piece of trash we remove contributes to a healthier and cleaner Peekskill City and environment for everyone. We are putting out a call for all volunteers to help with this clean-up.” Flagg continued, “We are thrilled that our local community partner WIN Waste Innovations, located at Charles Point, will be supporting this cleanup, by providing tools, gear, volunteers, and complimentary removal of the debris collected. WIN Waste embeds sustainability into every step of its waste and recycling services, which include converting post-recycled waste into renewable electricity at our local Peekskill waste-to-energy facility.”  

Mary Urban, WIN Waste Senior Director of Communications and Community said, “we are really excited about helping get the park spruced up once again. It is right in line with our business of cleaning and greening the places we call home. We couldn’t be prouder to be part of a community that provides great open spaces and areas for our communities to come together.”

The Friends of the Peekskill Dog Park will be also be hosting a raffle to support the efforts of ongoing clean-up days, as well as continuous park improvements. For more information, visit or email us at [email protected]

Peekskill Conservation Advisory Committee plans for Earth Day

In addition to cleaning the parks, “the Peekskill Conservation Advisory Committee (CAC) will be holding a short talk about Tree City and the other items at the Riverfront on Saturday April 20th around 11:30 Saturday morning” according to Elaine Caccoma, the CAC Chair.  “The CAC will have a table at the Riverfront and encourage people to stop by and pick up some materials on the Tree Ordinance, Drinking Water and Food Scapes and also talk to us about their climate concerns.” The CAC is also hoping to be able to plant a tree somewhere in the City.  We continue to be a Tree City USA. “For the past 2 years, the City achieved Tree City USA sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation” says Caccoma. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to become a Tree City USA and as a result of the CAC’s hard work and perseverance, NYS Governor Kathy Hochul awarded Peekskill the Climate Smart Communities Bronze Award in 2023.

Members of the CAC planting a tree in Depew Park for Earth Day 2023
Photo credit: CAC Facebook Page

The City of Peekskill Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) was established in 2011 by the City of Peekskill Common Council to help build awareness, support, and stewardship for the management and protection of Peekskill’s natural resources and parks. The CAC is also responsible for producing and maintaining an inventory and map system of all open space and wetland areas for the purpose of advising on ecologically suitable uses of such areas.

The group has been very active in raising awareness and protecting Peekskill’s natural resources. As a result of their hard work, at the end of 2023 Peekskill received a DEC Urban and Community Forestry Grant for a $75,000 grant to conduct a Tree Inventory and Management Plan. The grant will allow the city to hire a consultant to conduct a city-wide tree inventory of street trees and urban park trees. The purpose of the tree inventory is to provide information for the planning, design, planting, maintenance, and removal of community trees. The end goal is to increase the tree canopy in Peekskill, particularly in the downtown area, to help mitigate climate change, heat island effect, and help beautify the city streets and urban parks.

Westchester County collecting paints and hazardous materials at FDR State Park in Yorktown

Many people in and around Peekskill have hazardous waste and they do not know how to dispose of them properly. Westchester County has just the option for you on Saturday, April 20th. From 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Westchester County will be holding a Household Recycling Day which is an opportunity for residents to recycle household items like old medications, household chemicals, paints, electronics, and confidential documents that need to be shredded. The County will accept a plethora of things such as most automotive fluids (antifreeze, brake fluid, gasoline, but not motor oil), Paint (both oil and latex), Common household cleaners, Flammable liquids (kerosene, butane, charcoal fluid, turpentine), fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, photographic and swimming pool chemicals, Household appliances with Freon (air conditioners, refrigerators, dehumidifiers), Mercury thermometers and thermostats, E-waste items related to communications, including TVs, computers, monitors and related accessories, printers, fax machines, cell phones, radios, stereos, and speakers, Car tires (maximum 4) and expired or unused pharmaceuticals. Click here for the full list of items that the County will and will not accept. 

The event is first-come-first-served and there is no fee, but pre-registration is required for 100 pounds or more of solid material or 25 gallons or more of liquid. To pre-register, call the Recycling HelpLine at (914) 813-5425. The Mobile Shredder is available, but be advised that on occasion the Mobile Shredder unit can reach its maximum capacity for paper shredding before closing time. 

Final Note

Whatever you choose to do this Saturday April 20th, on Earth Day on April 22nd, or everyday of the year,  make sure you take care of the Earth, dispose of your trash and garbage properly and help keep Peekskill a safe, clean, and beautiful community.

Visit the Peekskill Herald Events Calendar Features  and the Peekskill Herald Event Calendar to see more local events.

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About the Contributor
Dave Mueller
As a Peekskill native, Dave is thrilled to be working with the Peekskill Herald showcasing featured calendar events. A 1999 graduate of PHS, he remembers reading and enjoying the original weekly print edition of the Peekskill Herald every Thursday. He especially liked the political stories, local features and sports coverage when it was written by Peekskill Runner columnist Jack Burns who always managed to weave history into the running times. An avid hiker, he enjoys exploring the local trails as well as the concrete ones in his job as a conductor for Metro North Railroad. He’s a former teacher and co-founder of the Friends of the Peekskill Dog Park, where he frequently can be found with his Koda. He’s happy to be part of the Herald’s growth as the source of local news for Peekskill and looks forward to highlighting a few of many of the events and happenings in Peekskill and the surrounding communities. Reach Dave at [email protected]