The area now known as Peach Hill Park has been the site of mixed agricultural uses since at least the 19th century. The first aerial photograph of the site, taken in 1936, indicates that the property consisted of a small orchard, woodlands and an extensive area of fields and meadows. It is jointly managed by the Friends of Peach Hill and the Town of Poughkeepsie Recreation Department.
After its purchase in 1948 by Charles Beck, more and more of the farmland was converted into peach, pear and apple orchards. By 1967, when William Paladino, Jr. acquired the property, the pears and peach trees had disappeared, and Peach Hill was almost entirely an apple orchard.
By 1999, the last year of commercial operation, there were approximately 10,000 apple trees, with a few acres of meadow and some boundary woodlands.
In 2000, a group of private citizens became concerned about the need to maintain Peach Hill’s unique features in the face of rapidly growing pressures for housing and commercial development, so they began working with Scenic Hudson and the Town of Poughkeepsie to find a way to acquire and maintain the property. Learn more about the Friends of Peach Hill (FOPH) and how you can get involved!
The FOPH started as a group of concerned citizens who wanted to preserve the vital nature of the park in light of rapidly growing pressures for housing and commercial development in the late 1990’s. This group began working with the nonprofit, Scenic Hudson, and the Town of Poughkeepsie to find a way to acquire and maintain the property.
These negotiations came to fruition in March 2004 when the Town of Poughkeepsie formally dedicated Peach Hill as public parkland for passive recreation, with the provision that it would not be an additional burden to taxpayers. The acquisition was made possible by a private contribution of $227,000, a $252,000 open space preservation grant from Dutchess County, and a $321,000 grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The Friends of Peach Hill organized to become a not-for-profit volunteer organization whose primary mission would be to make Peach Hill available for public enjoyment. Peach Hill is formally owned by the Town of Poughkeepsie, but is jointly managed by the Friends group and the Town Recreation Department. Under the terms of an agreement with the Town, the cost of the improvements to the park and its maintenance are borne by the FOPH or by grants.
Since 2004 the top priority of the Friends has been to protect the site and to open up more and more portions of Peach Hill for public use. Through some small grants and a lot of volunteer effort, the Friends have laid out several miles of hiking trails, constructed interpretative overlooks and picnic areas, kept trails and meadows mowed, battled invasive species, and pruned key sections of the orchard.
Through its membership and fundraising efforts, the Friends are working to ensure that the unique historical landscape of Peach Hill will always be there for the enjoyment of future generations.
We are always looking for people who love the park to join our efforts! Learn more about how you can become a Friend of Peach Hill.
Maribel Pregnall, President
Maureen Logan, Vice President
Jim Challey, Secretary
Claudius Feger, Treasurer