Our Friday Feature this week embodies the essence of PKGO. The City is truly lucky to have Rosaura Andújar-McNeil as a volunteer, who joined the city’s Planning Board in February 2020. If her story inspires you as much as it did us, we hope you consider applying to serve on one of the city’s boards before the December 18th deadline. See our interview with Rosaura below.

Tell us a bit about yourself. (name, occupation or “hats” you wear, hobbies, etc.)

Poughkeepsie knows me as Rosaura Andújar-McNeil, a zestful and curious Puerto Rican with an appetite for learning and solving problems.  I proudly wear multiple hats which include working as a Project Environmental Engineer for C.T. Male Associates, mothering three children ranging in ages 12 to 4, volunteering as a den leader of City of Poughkeepsie Pack 3010(on hold due to COVID), and serving as the newest member of the City of Poughkeepsie Planning Board.  I wish I had time for hobbies, but I do enjoy strolling and sightseeing, sampling new foods, and learning in general, whether it is from a textbook or a good conversation.

How long have you been in Poughkeepsie and what brought you here?

The City of Poughkeepsie has been home since 2005.  Around that time I was working in Manhattan as an engineer fresh out of college and an opportunity opened to work with a national faith-based non-profit serving students at Vassar College (Yes, far from my engineering background.)  My husband was already working in Poughkeepsie so it made sense to leave northern Westchester and make Poughkeepsie our home.

What do you love about Poughkeepsie? (favorite restaurant, favorite building, favorite walk, favorite thing about the people, etc.)

There are many things to love about Poughkeepsie, but for me what makes this city special is that all my children were born here.  There is something to be said about the place where your children were born, the place where they continue to play and learn, where your roots are planted so the family flourishes.

As part of my job I get to review historical maps to investigate the environmental past of a property with the aim to identify potential environmental risks.  I have done this for multiple properties along Main Street.  When you do this overtime, an image of the city emerges that reflects both the here and now but also there and then. I guess you can say I love the image of Main Street both the present and past. 

Recently I took my oldest daughter on a walk along Main Street and loved it. We walked because I wanted her to know the city, be connected to it and feel safe in it.  In Puerto Rico, I grew up a few blocks from the “Avenida Principal” (Main Street) and walked everywhere, to the corner store or church.  As an adult I continue to live just a few blocks from Main Street.  Walking your city allows you to own the place you live.

Why do you serve on the Planning Board or what is your favorite part about serving on the Planning Board?

Going back to that image of the present and past of Main Street, by being part of the Planning Board I get to be part of its future, yet unwritten. Urban and regional planning has always been an interest, to the point that I considered pursuing graduate studies.  As child I remember drawing pictures of a city with tall and short buildings, making sure there was a hospital and school.(And a toy store!)  By being part of the Planning Board I get to keep on drawing the future of a city.

My two favorite parts of serving on the Planning Board areworking with a diverse team and reviewing the project renderings.  Planning Board members come from a variety of backgrounds: ethnically, professionally, and generationally.  It is comprised of transplants and those that were born and raised in Poughkeepsie, all from different parts of the city.  They bring all of who they are to the table and the decisions made as a Planning Board.

As part of the site application process, usually the applicant’s architect presents a project rendering.  The renderings can vary greatly from project to project, these can be creative, unconventional, conservative, simple, or complex. You name it.  I get to preview and comment on these renderings and the intended use of any given property, and their relationship to the neighborhood around it and the city overall.  It is certainly an honor and privilege to be able to be part of this process and do it alongside a group of committed citizens encouraging growth and pursuing the wellbeing of this city.

If you’re interested in joining the the City of Poughkeepsie Planning Board or any of the other land use review boards for our city, you can find more information here!