The City of Newburgh has been designated as an Environmental Justice Community by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, defined as a minority or low-income community that bears a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from local development, including decreased access to nature. Crystal Lake, located in the city’s third ward, is tucked into the only city ward without a formally designated park, a neighborhood composed of 71 percent BIPOC residents.
In 2020, local residents established the Sanctuary on Crystal Lake, a Black, Asian, Indigenous & Latinx centered healing garden working to activate community connections through land, food, wellness and art. The Sanctuary is working to obtain formal park designation for the 90 acres surrounding the lake through grassroots support and relationship building. Park designation would prevent future development on this land, leaving it as a natural resource for the largely underserved community. It would also protect soil health and carbon sequestration capabilities as part of the larger Hudson Valley ecosystem.