The Dominican Sisters of Hope have agreed to a conservation easement that will preserve 34 of their 61 acres of land along the Hudson River in Ossining from future development.
The sisters made the announcement at a Sept. 28 press conference.
“To keep this open space protected and not have it developed in the future seemed like the right thing to do,” Sister Lorelle Elcock, O.P., the prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Hope, told CNY.
The property, known as Mariandale, continues to be owned and managed by the Dominican Sisters of Hope. It is located next to the Village of Ossining’s 30-acre Crawbuckie Nature Preserve. Ossining Mayor Victoria Gearity attended the press conference where she issued a proclamation of a Day of Hope.
State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Deputy Westchester County Executive Ken Jenkins and Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia also attended.
“We had a wonderful turnout, not only our sisters, but colleagues who have worked with us on this project and sisters from other communities who have been supportive and have shared in this journey,” Sister Lorelle said. “We had a full room to celebrate.”
The sisters worked with Westchester Land Trust, based in Bedford Hills, on the conservation easement, a voluntary legal agreement. Westchester Land Trust completed a site assessment in 2012 that showed the undeveloped land helps protect water quality and serves as a home to wildlife such as deer, wild turkeys, ground hogs and geese.
“The preservation of this beautiful land holds special meaning for Westchester Land Trust,” said Lori Ensinger, president of Westchester Land Trust, in a statement. “We have always known that this property is sacred to the sisters, and we worked to ensure that they felt comfortable with their decision to preserve the property after they are gone. Every action they have taken demonstrates their clear stewardship ethic and a deep reverence for the land. This project has been one of the most inspirational we have ever been involved with.”
The 61-acre Mariandale property is home to the Mariandale Center, which offers retreats and programs in spirituality and contemplative practices.
“People coming here will have the benefit of this beautiful natural environment to connect with God through nature and the retreat program,” Sister Lorelle said.