With a new department of tourism recently established, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced the hiring of its new director Thursday.
Lifelong Carmel resident Tracey Walsh was tapped to serve as the county’s tourism director with her tenure beginning in September. The new director and county department come on the heels of the Putnam County Visitor’s Bureau, an outside agency, disbanding and its executive director quitting, after county leadership and the visitor’s bureau board butted heads over the county’s desired oversight. While the visitor’s bureau was a private entity, it was funded by the county.
Walsh had previously worked for The American Cancer Society as a senior community development manager for about a decade and before that she was a volunteer for the ACS’s biggest event each year, Relay For Life. She left her ACS position to take the tourism gig.
“Sometimes the perfect person is someone close to home,” Odell said. “Tracey Walsh is smart, fast-thinking and goal-oriented. No one knows our communities better. We are looking forward to getting the word out about all the good things there are to see and do in Putnam County.”
Walsh, a Syracuse University graduate, wants to leverage the five Metro-North stops, different shops and restaurants and active community art groups in Putnam to bring in more day-trippers.
Walsh, in a press release, called the county a gem that she wants to showcase. She called the position her “dream job.”
“I’m very local and very proud,” Walsh said. “Tilly Foster Farm is a jewel. The Great Swamp is a birder’s paradise. Cold Spring offers a vibrant Main Street. From hiking to history, there is just so much here.”
Her salary will be $80,000.
The funding for the new department will come from a combination of county funds and matching grants from New York State’s I Love NY campaign. It’s the same budget that was allotted toward the visitor’s bureau which the county Legislature unanimously transferred during its full meeting last week.
“We can do better at tourism and I think we will,” Legislature Chairman Joe Castellano said after the vote. “It will be better to have a Putnam County employee that will be able to attend our meetings and listen to our concerns and hopefully we can point this person in the right direction for the people of Putnam County.”