For 6th Annual Clean Sweep, Kingston Land Trust Organizes Trail Work Day

Kingston Rail Trail Committee Seeks Volunteers as Part of 6th Annual Clean Sweep on 5/2. Register online at GreenlineCleanSweep2015.eventbrite.com

unnamed

Volunteers haul brush and debris during a prior Clean Sweep event.

Kingston, NY – As part of the 6th annual Kingston Clean Sweep, organized by Friends of Historic Kingston and the City of Kingston Parks and Recreation, the Kingston Land Trust is recruiting volunteers and supporters to take the clean-up to the trails! Beginning at 9am sharp, our crews will pick up garbage, remove brush and spiff-up the future Kingston Point Rail Trail from midtown to the Rondout Creek.

Volunteers are encouraged to register in advance via GreenlineCleanSweep2015.eventbrite.com.

“We’re looking for additional helpers of all ages and abilities,” explains Meg Clark, one of the event organizers and a member of the Kingston Land Trust’s Rail Trail Committee. “It’s a chance to put some sweat-equity into the emerging trail system that’s starting to take off in Kingston and beyond.”

All volunteers will gather at 8:30am on Saturday, May 2nd at the Rondout Savings Bank parking lot, 300 Broadway in Kingston. After signing in and completing a brief safety orientation, volunteers will be provided with tools and will work their way down the future trail, picking up litter, clearing drainage basins and removing debris that has accumulated over the winter. Along the way, our crew leaders will provide updates on the ongoing construction of the Kingston Point Rail Trail, which began last fall and is expected to continue through 2016.

Volunteers should come prepared, wearing boots, gloves, bug and tick guard and long pants and long-sleeved shirts. The work will involve removing and bagging general trash and rubbish. All volunteers will be required to sign-in before participating in the clean-up.

###

About the Kingston Land Trust and the Rail Trail Committee – The Kingston Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to the protection and preservation of open space, historic sites, wetlands, scenic areas, and forests in the City of Kingston and the surrounding region to include the Town of Ulster and the Town of Kingston. The Rail Trail Committee is dedicated to planning, development, utilization, and proper maintenance of rail trails and other non-motorized linkages in the City of Kingston. More information is available at KingstonLandTrust.org.

About the Kingston Greenline – The Kingston Greenline is a partnership of the Kingston Land Trust and the City of Kingston to develop a city-wide system of trails, bikeways, promenades, paths and complete streets. The Kingston Greenline will provide residents and visitors with healthy, active, non-motorized ways to connect to the City’s vibrant commercial, cultural, historical and recreational assets. The Greenline will also weave together a growing regional trail network, providing an amenity-rich urban trail hub that promotes active transportation and tourism. More information is available at KingstonGreenline.org and facebook.com/kingstonrailtrails.

REALTORS for Clean Trails: May 9th Cleanup Day with the Ulster County Board of REALTORS

Kingston, NY – Saturday May 9 from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM the Ulster County Board of REALTORS® has organized a county-wide day of service, dubbed “REALTORS® for Clean Trails.”  Volunteers will work on trail clean-up projects at several sites throughout Ulster County. Work will include parts of the Walkill Valley Rail Trail, the Kingston Greenline, Hudson Valley Rail Trail, and the O&W Rail Trail.

In Ulster County, an exciting meeting-of-the-minds is taking place as REALTORS® and land conservation and trail groups are working together to support the expansion of the county’s growing network of rail trails. The partnership, which has flourished since receiving a nationally-competitive grant in 2014, is based on a shared vision of a more walkable and bike-able community which, according to recent studies, boosts real estate values, spurs private investment, and improves residents’ physical and mental health. Rail trails not only preserve open space and provide great recreational opportunities, they also improve communities and raise home values.

“What we’re doing here is pretty unusual,” explains Andi Turco-Levin, who heads up the Kingston Land Trust’s board of directors and is the current president of the Ulster County Board of REALTORS®. “People often think of trails as nice recreational amenities, but we’re putting them front-and-center as a part of our efforts to strengthen property values, catalyze real estate development, and better connect our community,” Levin adds.

“There’s a turning point here, as Ulster County’s individual rail trails link up to form something entirely new, a new kind of infrastructure,” explains Tim Weidemann, the co-chair of the Kingston Land Trust’s Rail Trail Committee. “We’re creating a modern, active transportation network, which has the power to really transform our communities in positive ways over the next decade,” Weidemann continues, “and we’re succeeding because people of all stripes understand that this is what our community needs in order to continue to be attractive.”

Volunteers can pick a worksite from multiple locations throughout Ulster County, including the Hudson River Maritime Museum, 50 Rondout Landing, Kingston, NY 12401. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up today by calling the UCBR office at 338-5299 or emailing event chair Nan Potter at NanPotter66@gmail.com.

An Interview with Board Member Kristen Wilson

KristenW

Where are you from originally? 

I’m from Lake Placid, NY.

What brings you to the Hudson Valley?

I took a circuitous path to the Hudson Valley through Maine, Oregon, and Mexico. I never dreamed in my early life that I would come to live here. Being from the Adirondacks, my perception of the Hudson Valley was that it was flat, crowded, and “downstate.”  Haha! I came to work as an environmental educator at the Taconic Outdoor Education Center in Cold Spring, NY, and I was hooked to the beautiful scenery of the Hudson Valley. I experimented with living in many places – New Paltz, Red Hook, Rhinecliff, but Kingston always fascinated me and drew me in. I am so happy to have landed in Kingston where I can have an urban, car-less lifestyle if I choose, and at the same time I have immediate access to some of the most stunning open space one could find in New York.

How long have you lived here and are any areas of particular interest to you?

I’ve lived here since 2007. My favorite places are Hasbrouck and Kingston Point Park. I also completely love Spruce St. It’s a little road that traverses the hill on the West side of the Roundout. It starts across the street from my house. When I walk on it I feel like I am in Europe, it’s a wildlife corridor, and my daughter is learning to ride her bike on it!

Other Interests? Hobbies…Family…Pets?

I practice Ashtanga Yoga regularly, and I am about to start teaching a morning class at Mudita Yoga in Uptown Kingston. I LOVE riding my bicycle with my 3-year daughter in the seat on the back. I enjoy cooking, and just discovered a website called Cooksmarts.com, which is an amazing meal planning tool for busy parents. I have two cats, Zapote and Calcetina, who are from Mexico.

How does your professional experience serve the Board?

I work at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County in our Healthy Communities program. I have a Masters in Environmental Policy, and a lot of experience with transportation policy. My main interest is working to transform Kingston into a healthy community on every level – economically, environmentally and public health-wise. My passion is developing and coordinating the Live Well Kingston coalition – a collaborative of people and organizations working to make Kingston a better place to walk, bike, eat, and play.

How have you been active on the Board? Any recent work on projects or committees?

I am relatively new to the Board. I am on the Land Use committee, and recently started a little “book club” on the Board to develop our collective knowledge and capacity to understand open space acquisition and management. While I’m not officially on the Rail Trail committee, I coordinate quite a bit with them to advance the Greenline and Complete Streets in general in Kingston. Right now we are working together to plan the Ulster County Active Transportation conference on June 12th.

Why the Kingston Land Trust? Which issues do you feel most passionate about?

My father was a birdwatcher, the really serious kind of birdwatcher who would brag at the dinner table about the new “life bird” he saw that day. His passion for birds rubbed off on me. For a time I thought I wanted to be an ornithologist, and I did study biology. Open space is not only important for humans to utilize for recreation and nature therapy, but for non-human beings to survive and thrive. Part of me is always thinking about birds, even though, on a daily basis, I’m mostly thinking about streetscapes. Being on the KLT Board gives me an opportunity to dabble in efforts for open space preservation in an urban environment, and I also love being in the company of the other Board members who are an interesting and inspiring crew.

Kristen Wilson serves on the Kingston Land Trust Board of Directors and is a member of its Land Use Committee. She lives in Kingston with her husband and 3 year old daughter. Kristen is the Healthy Communities Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, and coordinator of the Live Well Kingston coalition. She also serves as co-chair of Bike Friendly Kingston. She has been on the board since early 2014.

Agent’s Day Expo to Feature Cross-County Panel Presentation on Interconnected Rail Trail Vision

expo

Kingston, NY – On Tuesday May 5th, the Ulster County Board of REALTORS® in partnership with the Dutchess County Association of REALTORS® will host their annual “Mid Hudson Valley Agent’s Day and Trade Expo.” The event will be hosted at the Grandview Hotel in Poughkeepsie, with a start time of 12 in the afternoon and will run until 4pm.

In the spirit of cross-county collaboration, the keynote presentation, which begins at 12:30pm, will feature several different perspectives on rail trails in our region. The keynote will highlight regional progress on trails, local initiatives, as well as the big picture of a future with a more interconnected system of regional trails.

Robert Wills (Dutchess County Department of Health) and Chris White (Ulster County Planning Department) will be speaking on regional rail trail projects in progress. Wills and White will provide an overview map of each county’s trail network, and explain the future vision toward which the county’s efforts are directed.

Taking on the local perspective, Bryan Roberts will speak about the local trail initiatives in Northern Dutchess with a focus on trails that are up and running as well as future plans for trails that are still in the works. Tim Weidemann, of the Kingston Land Trust, will focus on the Kingston Greenline and talk about the Kingston Land Trust’s partnership with the Ulster County Board of REALTORS® and the NAR Smart Growth Action grant that supports their work. This portion of the discussion will further focus on the benefits of rail trails, highlighting the ways in which trails promote a healthier, happier and more prosperous community.

Jeff Anzevino of Scenic Hudson will also be on hand to discuss the Walkway Over the Hudson and its role as an important connective thread between the two counties, with a particular focus on the Greater Walkway Experience.

Registration for the event will begin at 12pm. Ulster members can register by emailing kim@ucrealtors.com or by calling 845-338-5299. Dutchess members can register by emailing staff@dcar.com or by calling 845-471-2811. The registration fee before May 4th is $40, and will be $50 at the door.

Don’t miss out on a great keynote presentation and an amazing opportunity to learn more about how rail trails can positively impact the economic bottom line of local communities.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcoming Spring To Our Valley

ApricotBlossoms-finaledit

We in the Hudson Valley are permitted a very precise honor. We are permitted to experience each season in its entirety, from solstice to equinox and equinox to solstice, there and back again- a full run. Here, the seasons seem to appreciate their calendar designation and behave accordingly, completely in line with the slight orbital shifts that make our seasons what they are. Really, its quite miraculous. Think of all the energy that goes into this, what else goes through so many changes in one year? There is a beautiful sense of completion in this- a clean slate every year. All we humans can do is try and keep up with it.

While the light had been lengthening for quite some time, It was not until about a week before the 1st Day of Spring (March 21st) that the weather broke enough for residents to loosen their overcoats and register even a faint consideration of Spring’s arrival. “I think it must be up near 40 degrees!” I heard one Kingstoner exclaim with joy in her heart.

In his poem, Form Is Ecstatic, the 13th century Persian Poet Rumi chides us,

“And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.”

I don’t know how the winters are in Persia but I imagine those of us in the Northeast can find a particularly special solace in these words. And its more than just being patient, it’s seeing the life present in all stages.

By April 12th about 1% of all accumulated snow in the region remained and presently we’re experiencing our first real healthy dose of spring rainfall, not to mention the effects of mother nature’s dust broom, the spring winds.

By the time this is published I imagine the new leaves will be unfurling on their branches into their uniform spring green and the dusting of pollen will cast a perceivable matte finish into the air as it is perfumed with the fragrance of opening blossoms. Lets continue to experience the unique joys of each season, and the in-between seasons because we will get our 90 days of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall in all of their various and marvelous manifestations.

Ana Gioia is a contributing author for the Kingston Land Trust. She lives in Kingston with her husband and two year old daughter. A New York native who has recently returned to her home state, Ana is excited to be putting energy towards the preservation of beautiful and historic spaces closer to home.

Naturalist Mark DeDea Guest Guides This Sunday’s Birding Hike on the Greenline

BirdWatchingWith the full effects of spring settling in, there is no better way to enjoy the sunshine and the great outdoors than immersing yourself in nature.  Sunday April 19th, from 9:30-11:30 AM,  the Kingston Greenline hike will feature Mark DuDea of the Forsyth Nature Center and will focus on birding along the Kingston Greenline.

With such a diverse array of ecosystems along the Hudson River and Rondout Creek there is no shortage of unique birds that can be identified along this portion of the future Kingston Greenline.  With the help of DeDea, the caretaker at Forsyth Nature Center in Uptown, hikers will learn how to identify birds that are visible, as well as decode the cryptic bird songs that echo throughout the woods. DuDea comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience having lead many walks for new birders or seasoned birders throughout the Hudson Valley for various organizations, nature centers, state parks and preserves.

The hike will kick off at Kingston Wine Co at 9:30AM and will last until 11:30AM. We encourage hikers to either bring a bag lunch for the hike, or join us post-hike at nearby Cornell Park for a picnic lunch and discussion. Don’t miss out on a great chance to learn the art of birding from an expert, and better appreciate the beautiful place our feathered friends can have on our rail trails.

Sunday Hikes on the Kingston Greenline are brought to you by Kingston Wine Co. (kingstonwine.com) and the Kingston Land Trust. Hikes are held every third Sunday, rain-or-shine, from 9:30 – 11:30 AM. Hikes begin at Kingston Wine Co (65 Broadway) and return to the store for a post-hike tasting of house selections.

 

 

Safety, Connectivity, Revitalization: How the Greenline Boosts Quality of Life

Last month, we highlighted the health benefits of the Kingston Greenline, our active transportation initiative that weaves together trails and complete streets to make Kingston a more connected community. The Kingston Greenline also serves as a useful tool in promoting greater “quality of life” in our city. By creating safer streets and bikeways, reconnecting fragmented neighborhoods, and rejuvenating existing community structures, the Kingston Greenline represents a tremendous opportunity to boost Kingston’s ongoing renaissance by enhancing a range of community indicators that make for greater quality of life.

Safe, accessible and comfortable walking and biking infrastructure is a vital part of a community’s quality of life. With a series of trails, bike lanes and complete streets, the Kingston Greenline will help to create a safer mode of transportation, and promote physical activity. According to Hidden Health Care Costs of Transportation, conducted by Urban Design 4 Health, traffic crashes in 2008 killed nearly 35,000 nationally, with pedestrians making up over 10% of those fatalities. Data from Active Living Research explains that traffic calming efforts such as medians, speed bumps and other methods reduce the number of automobile crashes involving pedestrian injuries by up to 15%.

Improvements to the overall design of our non-motorized transportation routes would aid in making the community safer for people who walk and bike. As the Hidden Health Costs of Transportation report states, transportation improvements such as narrower streets with sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and prominent crossings for pedestrians can slow traffic and reduce the number of severe crashes. With the Kingston Greenline’s connections that include bike lanes and prominent crossings, we could see theses types of improvements directly benefiting high traffic locations. It is worth noting that there are highly trafficked pedestrian routes that the Kingston Greenline would directly affect: Route 9W in Kingston, John F Kennedy Elementary School, and Kingston High School, all of which have large populations of school children that rely on these routes for daily commuting. Overall, the safety of pedestrians is an important component of a community’s quality of life, and the Kingston Greenline works to ensure the safety of its users through utilizing an active transport design that is conscious of pedestrian safety.

Another contribution the Greenline offers to the community is connection between separate areas. The portion of the Kingston Greenline known as the Kingston Point Rail Trail offers an opportunity to bridge the gaps between neighborhoods that have long been divided by US Route 9W. The trail establishes a new psychological and physical connection between the disconnected neighborhoods of  Midtown, Ponckhockie and the Roundout. Valuable connections would be created between important community assets and institutions including schools, museums, the YMCA of Kingston, churches, and the Roundout Community Center. A more physically connected community can promote stronger feelings of unity and offer a better quality of life.

Hand-in-hand with a better connected community comes revitalization. According to the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, “Greenways and trails can be catalysts for community revitalization.” Ever since Frederick Law Olmstead’s first-of-its-kind study of Central Park’s impact on surrounding real estate showed that proximity to the park increased values, communities have used parks and greenspaces as tools for revitalization. More recently, in a model pioneered along the Great Allegheny Passage, connecting Pittsburgh to Baltimore, targeted promotion and trail-side amenities were used to maximize the benefit from trail visitor spending, generating significant increases in sales tax and economic activity for communities long starved after the decline of the lumber and coal industries. In one article, the Katy Trail in Dallas was credited by real estate developers as generating a whopping 25% premium on property values.

Further, the opportunity that the Kingston Greenline offers as an agent of revitalization has been recognized by local government. With the creation of the “Building a Better Broadway” transportation study, the City of Kingston is beginning to undertake the process of renovating the physical layout of Broadway. Some goals of the study include helping to improve mobility, accessibility, and safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. An essential part of this study includes the development of a Corridor Plan that includes proposed bike lanes and sidewalk improvements. This plan includes part of the Kingston Greenline known as the “Midtown Hub,” which connects together the three other sections of the Greenline (Rondout, Uptown, Wallkill). Through its inclusion in this transportation study, the Kingston Greenline can be seen as a vital part of the process in renovating and revitalizing Broadway

Whether it is through creating a safer mode of pedestrian travel, making a more connected community, or revitalizing active transport in the City of Kingston, the Kingston Greenline has a major stake in helping to improve the community’s overall quality of life.