Thursday, July 2, 2009

Newburgh comes in second

The US Census Bureau announced the current populations of cities in the Mid-Hudson Region. To my surprise, Poughkeepsie has a slightly larger population than Newburgh. I hate being second. Poughkeepsie has 29,654 residents while Newburgh has 28,101.

Interestingly, according to, cities are losing their population base. Well slightly. All cities have dropped in residency except Middletown, Port Jervis, and Peekskill. These cities actually had an increase in residents. But then again, the statistics are estimates. The real numbers will be part of the 2010 Census which is starting to move forward now. It will be interesting to see if they accurately count all the residents in Newburgh. Despite all the abandoned buildings, I tend to believe that our population numbers will increase.

A more interesting stat is the number of residents under the age 18 that dwell in these Mid-Hudson cities. Newburgh is the winner there.

Percent of residents under 18

Newburgh 33.8%
Middletown 27.8%
Poughkeepsie 25.9%
Peekskill 24.4%
Kingston 23.9%

A third of our city is under 18. And you can't help but notice.

This large population of children under 18 is not problematic. But the fact that these youngster are city dwellers and have no programs or activities to do is a big problem. I see them running the streets in large groups looking for something to do. They would benefit from structure. But they tend to run rampant with little to no supervision. The result is graffiti, petty crimes, destruction of property, and low expectation of their lives and future. Without guidance, more will join gangs and continue in a life of vandalism and exploration.

Now obviously, not all of our youth is prone to such behavior. But we can't deny that a large number of these kids are moving in the wrong direction. To them it is normal. And they will continue with this "normalcy" until they are well into their adulthood.

Reversing this cycle is not easy. There are not enough adults out here willing to volunteer their time to make some sort of impact. But the reversal of this trend and taking action to do something for our Newburgh youngsters is necessary in looking at the future of Newburgh.

Newburgh desperately needs a Cub Scout and Boy Scout Troop. I think it would be great for these inner city kids to go camping for a weekend. Anything that gets them out of Newburgh is a welcome change.

These kids seem hardcore sometimes, but they are kids. They may not show it, but they would love to play out in the countryside, or go to a museum or concert. It is exposure to a world outside of their own which best educates young people. If you think about all your life's experiences, you will find that the person you are today was not formed in a classroom in school. You became the person you are because of your parents, family and community. But there was a moment when the exposure to something new or different shaped your life. Maybe you went to Central Park and saw a juggler and wanted to join the circus. Or maybe your parents dragged you to a Shakespeare play, and you were inspired to read and write your own stories. These exposure have impact. Not for all kids, but maybe just a few. And a few is what it takes to start to change the rest.

1 comment:

  1. Programs and safe supervised places for youth are wonderful, and I agree there should be more. But let's be real. The grim situation you've described needs more than volunteers. It needs responsible parenthood. And with responsibile parenthood, people will be building those programs.
    Seems to me that the way to move this along rests largely on education and honest and effective city governance.