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ALBANY-The city of Beacon in Dutchess County bested more than 20 other communities who vied to be named the site of a future “Rivers and Estuaries Center on the Hudson.” Beacon’s selection was revealed yesterday by Governor George Pataki. The governor also noted that the state has secured an additional $25.8 million in funding for the development project, which is geared to creating a world-class institute for the study of rivers and estuaries.

In addition to the main center, which will be built on state-owned land in Beacon, satellite facilities will be established in Rensselaer and Rockland counties by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to further advance river and estuary studies, state officials say.

The Beacon site consists of 64 acres at Denning’s Point, which is owned by New York State. The property, which is adjacent to the Hudson River, is currently a popular site for hiking, bird watching, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities. The future center will be built mainly on the footprint of existing buildings, with additional facilities proposed to the north, near the Scenic Hudson-Beacon Landing property and within the heart of the city’s active waterfront. Trails and roads will link the north site to Denning’s Point, according to state officials.

Once it is fully operational, the complex will consist of a main office, conference center, docking facilities, classrooms, laboratory facilities and residential/hospitality buildings.

The governor announced that the New York Power Authority has committed $10 million to create green facilities at the center site and will work with the selected contractor for the project on the center’s design. In addition, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has committed $10 million for center facilities in the port district, and the Dyson Foundation of Dutchess has pledged $5 million toward the development of the center. Also, Dutchess County has said it will contribute $750,000 to the project. New York State previously authorized $2.3 million to the venture, and an additional $900,000 in federal funds have been secured as well.

State officials say that design work will begin this summer and major construction on the project is expected to take about two years. The center is expected to open its doors for the first time sometime in 2006.

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