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ALBANY, NY-Property owers and municipalities interested in building a massive research center on the Hudson River geared to rivers and estuaries have until Sept. 15 to contact New York State.

With the recent release of a strategic plan for a new Rivers and Estuaries Center for the Hudson River, a task force created by Gov. George Pataki last year, will be accepting nominations through Sept. 15, 2001 for suitable sites for the facility. After its reviews the nominations the task force will make its recommendation to the governor by early 2002.

John Cronin, former Hudson Riverkeeper and public outreach coordinator for the Rivers and Estuaries Center, tells Globest.com that the center will not be a museum, but mainly a research center with an educational component.

The plan calls for the center to be located near the Hudson River. State officials expect the site will need to encompass at least 20 acres to accommodate the center and its various facilities.

Cronin adds, “Before the strategic plan report came out (July 31) we had about 27 sites involving 22 different communities informally presented to us.”

Some of the municipalities that have expressed interest thus far include: Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Hastings-on-Hudson, Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow and Croton-on-Hudson.

The facility is modeled after the famed Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts. The Hudson River complex would employ more than 500 full-time employees, including 300 program staff and an additional 200 employees for hospitality and facility support, state officials say.

The startup phase, including site selection and construction, is expected to take up to four years with an estimated cost of $172 million. However, some programs may begin operating from an interim facility as soon as 2003, Cronin says.

During the first five years of the center’s operation, its annual budget is expected to grow to $60 million, according to state officials.

Cronin says that just because someone has available real estate near the Hudson River does not mean it will be an appropriate locale for the research center. “We are advising everyone to give a hard look at what we are proposing and see if it fits with what you want to see happening in your community,” he says.

Nomination packages will be sent to municipal governments and other interested parties in the Hudson Valley and are also available online at www.hudsonsite.com or by calling Cronin at (914) 773-3452.

The governor has committed $1.5 million to date for the development and creation of the center. Cronin says that once the site is selected, a not-for-profit corporation will be established that will attempt to secure the necessary federal, state and private funding to develop the complex.

Task force officials explain that the strategic plan calls for the center to build upon existing research and education efforts and become a clearinghouse for the creation, storage and dissemination of river and estuaries information. Through partnerships and global outreach, the center will extend its expertise to river environments, populations and governments around the world.

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