Master Plan - Marsh Sanctuary

We will be working with community leaders and activists to  define a new set of Sanctuary goals and objectives

This page will grow to become quite a long list of POTENTIAL goals, objectives, and even some prescriptions for how to manage the Marsh Sanctuary.  It will be a work in progress for the next year, as we first try to explore the possibilities and then refine the best choices into cohesive management scenarios.   

Please feel free to comment on the  anything you see or that you would like to see.  The Marsh Sanctuary is a community resource, so please feel free to help us in our decision making process, we want to hear your concerns.

Marsh Sanctuary

Master Plan - Draft Outline


History of Marsh Sanctuary

 History of the Marsh Sanctuary

Overview of the Marsh Sanctuary

The Marsh Sanctuary is a privately-owned "green space", open to the public and set aside originally in the 1950's as a wildlife preserve with the protection of wetlands near the corner of Byram Lake Road and Sarles Street.   Since that time, new properties have been added to the Sanctuary creating a slimly connected patchwork of protected areas.  These new sections added a whole new diversity of landscapes and habitats to the Sanctuary's holdings, and added a new set of possibilities to the Sanctuary's future.

The Sanctuary, encompassing 120 + acres, offers hiking and walking trails, and an amphitheater for cultural and community programs. 


Marsh Sanctuary Incorporated, is a not-for-profit organization which oversees the programs, landscape and building renewal, and property maintenance.  A Board of Director's governs the organization and day-to-day operations are run by a Director/ Naturalist and a Caretaker.  There are several buildings on the property, including;  the Brookside Cottage and Amphitheater, a renovated garage /workshop, a stable with an attached house, a separate caretaker's house, an old chicken coop, and a shed.




The Marsh Sanctuary is primarily located in Mount Kisco, NY approximately 30 miles north of New York City.  Mount Kisco is a small urban community of approximately 10,000 people, with a diverse demographic  and growing poulation.  Small sections of the Sanctuary are located in the towns of Bedford and New Castle, NY.   Prior to annexation(approx. 1980), the Marsh Sanctuary properties had been predominantly located in the town of Bedford.


Mount Kisco was incorporated in 1875, and has a current land area of 3.13 sq. miles and a population density of 3329 people per sq. mile.   Mount Kisco has a defined downtown commercial area, a major regional hospital,  and several  large apartment complexes.  The Mount Kisco area has seen substantial development in the last thirty years, especially in the immediate vicinity of the Marsh Sanctuary. 



Brookside Amphitheater -  Public space - no public bathrooms


Brookside Cottage - Private residence


Stable  - Not currently an operational public facility - no public bathrooms


Stable Manager's House - Not currently an operational public facility - no public bathrooms


Caretaker's House - Private residence



Other Sanctuaries in the area


Merestead Sanctuary


Westmoreland Sanctuary


Butler Sanctuary


Guard Hill Preserve


Leonard Park - Town of Mt Kisco Parks





Visions for Marsh Sanctuary

    1. Board members

                                                               i.      Hiking trails for the community

                                                             ii.      Use by greater Mt. Kisco population

1.      Only sanctuary in this urban zone

                                                            iii.      Use of amphitheatre

1.      Performing arts

                                                           iv.      Nature center

1.      Education

2.      Wetlands focus (one option)

                                                             v.      Parking for users of Sanctuary

                                                           vi.      Housing for naturalist and for caretaker

    1. Local officials
    2. Other Sanctuaries
    3. Others

Proposed Plan

    1. Maintain trails on a regular basis for three season use
    2. Advertise Sanctuary (free)

                                                               i.      Marsh web site

                                                             ii.      Other organizations

    1. Encourage use of trails and amphitheater

                                                               i.      Local organizations

1.      Boy & Girl Scouts

2.      Town of Mount Kisco

3.      Schools

                                                             ii.      Establish Marsh Sanctuary hiking club

                                                            iii.      Performing Arts

1.      Music groups

2.      Theatre groups

3.      Schools

    1. Establish kiosks and signs in two locations

                                                               i.      Building one kiosk for Sarles Street

1.     Completed May 2008

                                                             ii.      Buying one kiosk for Brookside

    1.    Completed May 2008

                                                            iii.      Buying/Building signs for Brookside and Sarles Street

1.      Sarles Street - Completed May 2008

2.      Brookside - Completed June 2008

    1. Restore Brookside house

                                                               i.      New roof - Scheduled for Summer / Fall 2008

                                                             ii.      New floors – dining room and kitchen

                                                            iii.      Repair fence

                                                           iv.      New/restored doors and windows

    1. Existing library building

                                                               i.      Storage and workshop

                                                             ii.      Remove for parking

    1. Establish Nature Center in barn

                                                               i.      Seal buildings (windows and doors) – cost: $5,000

                                                             ii.      Fix up inside for basic use

1.      Floors – cost: $10,000

2.      Electric service – cost: $5,000

3.      Walls  - cost: $10,000

                                                            iii.      Plumbing – cost: $5,000

                                                           iv.      Fixtures for three season use – cost: $2,000

                                                             v.      Heat for four season use – cost: $10,000

    1. Restore attached house for use as office space – cost: $100,000
    2. Community garden space - Work with local grous to create a community garden on Sanctuary property to benefit local residents with the urge to test there "green thumb", produce vegetables, or just grow some flowers.  The garden will be a focal point for the exchange of ideas on organic gardening, vegetable production techniques, and create a social structure for those seeking to solve gardening problems.
    3. Manage Sanctuary lands and grounds to further objectives of the Sanctuary
      1. Identify areas to be managed, divide the Sanctuary into sectors - each with it's own purpose.
      2. Create a set of goals and objectives for each section - the objectives shall include deadline dates to help us with tracking completion of our objectives - also include a maintenance plan, with a breakdown of necessary man-hours and approximate costs

Options for the Future

It is important to consider the many possibilities for what this Sanctuary could mean to the community before we select a plan and head down a path.  We will try to develop each idea and include as much detail as we can.  Please help us by reading through the options and giving us your opinions and any incite you may have, positive or negative thoughts on any plan.

    1. Nature Center with a Dual Focus - Wetlands and Renewable Energy

Westchester would benefit from a nature center focusing on freshwater wetland habitats and their ecology.  Many residents in Westchester own wetland properties but do not adequately understand their value.   Focusing on the many positive impacts of wetlands and wetland protection, areas of the nature center would be devoted to the different types of wetlands, with living exhibits where practicable.  Discussions of native wetland species, invasive species, and the importance of wetland maintenance would be a central feature.   Relationships with local garden clubs will be incorporated to foster  programs teaching native plant gardening, organic gardening, species identification, and so on.


In the same vein of environmental protection, the nature center would be a working classroom for renewable energy in Westchester County.  Photovoltaics and solar thermal panels installed on the roof would provide a visible,  tangible, and  evidence Hands-on experience with renewable technologies in a working environment will support local adoption of technologies.  Educational programs for school children would not only stimulate awareness of the technologies themselves but  also open up new avenues for potential employment in an industry which has been growing at approximately 25-30% every year.  Westhceseter County has taken an aggresive stance concerning renewable energy production and energy coservation,however, the county does not have any instructional opportunities in this field.   This nature center could eventually become a "classroom" for the instructional credits and installation experience necessary for certification.

    1. Mountain Bike Trails

Several users have asked about the potential for mountain biking at the Marsh Sanctuary.  While we do not currently allow moutain biking, we may consider it.  Mountain biking as a local sport is currently limited  to a few parks in our area;  Graham Hills in Pleasantville, Blue Mountain in Cortland Manor, and Ninham in Carmel.  For the residents of Mt. Kisco and Bedford, these other bike trails are too far away to use without first travelling by car.  Development of a system of bike trails in the north sector of the Sanctuary would expand Mount Kisco/Bedford's recreational oppoprtunities to include a whole new activity.   


Trail use by mountain bike could be free or by access-permit only.  Permit fees would give the Sanctuary another source of revenue and source of income with which to combat potential erosion issues. 

Bike use would have to be limited to trails in the north sector, as the sacntuary does not own all the land where the south trails run.

    1. Equine Center for Urban Community

The Sanctuary currently includes a trail marked for horseback riding by the Bedford Riding Lanes Association. Bedford Riding Lanes maintains a large, interonnected network of trails which criss-cross the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge on both public and private lands.  Expanding upon this theme, the Marsh Sanctuary could push to make all of its trails open for horseback riding, create new trails for this purpose, and renovate the existing stable so that it can be used either to board horses or as a public rental stable.  The stable could be used to provide riding lessons or horses for timed use.  


The major focus would be to offer riding opportunities for the residents of Mount Kisco.


We do not currently employ anyone with knowledge of horses, so planning staff would be an issue from the start. 



Fund Raising

    1. Annual membership appeal
    2. Performances at the Amphitheater

Note:  Cost estimates are for materials and labor excluding time of naturalist and caretaker.

We can be easily contacted at or call (914) 241-2808.