The Compromise: Re-purposing our Rails while Preserving the Past

support the compromise

I remember driving by a new billboard in Kingston a few years ago that stated “Build the Trails but Save the Rails.” Why was this an issue? I felt uninformed at the time and curious. Why couldn’t the rails and trails coexist?

This brings me to our current topic, The Compromise, which is an agreement come to by a few different groups, to accommodate the building of new trails as well as preservation of railroad operations on the 36.8 mile Ulster and Delaware Corridor (1).

You may have seen signs up around town stating “Save the Rails” as well as “Support the Compromise.” You see, there are two camps on this issue; those who want to preserve the railroad tracks for use as a tourist train and those who want to re-purpose the tracks into trails. Of course there were also those wondering “why not both?” However, there remains a feeling of history vs. the future as the rails vs. trails debate continued.

Key Points of Compromise (wide)

The creation of new trails would get Ulster County residents out into nature to experience the beauty of where we live through the lens of walking or biking rather than driving. Trail supporters believe creating more trails will benefit the health and wellness of our residents.

The Compromise, embodied in Resolution 488 of the Ulster County Legislature, represents an agreement between the Catskill Mountain Railroad, Friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail, the Ulster County Executive and the Ulster County Legislature to help the railroad supporters and trail builders collaborate. It created space for the railroad to continue to maintain its tracks in portions of the county as well as for new trails to be built (1).

support the compromise

The need for a compromise became apparent when members of the community expressed concern over a proposal put forward in 2012 by the Ulster County Executive to convert the current rail line that runs from the City of Kingston to the western edge of the County, near Highmount, to a recreation trail for walking or biking, etc. The proposal was made when considering that the lease by the Catskill Mountain Railroad would end in May of 2016. This was of concern to rail supporters because it would mean the elimination of the railroad.

In order to come up with a resolution, a committee was created called the “Ulster and Delaware Corridor Advisory Committee.” Additionally, they hired a consulting firm to assess what would make the most sense when divvying up the stretch of track and trails and deciding where both could exist. The committee did a thorough reexamination of the original proposal to build the trail and conducted a study to decide what would be the optimum use of the corridor. After assessing what would be best, the committee came to a “rails with trails” agreement (1).

Support The Compromise

Starting at Cornell street in Kingston, a pedestrian trail will run to the Kingston Plaza. From there the train and trail will run side by side to Route 28A in Hurley. The portions of track between Route 28A in Hurley and Basin Road in West Hurley at the Ashokan Reservoir are still to be determined. Basin Road to Route 28A in Boiceville will be pedestrian trail only. Boiceville to Phoenicia will be rail and trail “where feasible’, and last Phoenicia to Highmount there will be trail development with a possible rail station development and rail connection to Delaware County at Highmount (2).

As you can see, both camps ended up with some of what they had hoped for, both rail and trail. The Compromise brought together two ends of a very passionate debate on an issue important to the people of Ulster County. The process continues, as Ulster County has recently selected two contractors to provide service on the two separate portions of track to remain. As it turns out, the Catskill Mountain Railroad will continue its operations in Kingston, while a new organization will operate west of the Ashokan Reservoir, providing rail-bike excursions.

And so we hope this brief explanation clarifies the history, and helps you understand why we #SupportTheCompromise

Sources:

  1. Resolution 488

Dana lives in the Rondout neighborhood with her adorable dog Cooper. Her family history in Kingston is what brought her to the area over ten years ago. Together, she and Cooper enjoy exploring all of the beauty and history that Kingston has to offer. The Kingston Land Trust asked Dana, who has only recently become aware of the compromise for rail and trail, to do some digging and attempt to explain from an outsider’s perspective what it’s all about.

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NOW OPEN: South Pine Street City Farm Stand

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The South Pine Street City Farm Stand, now in its fifth year, sells fresh, naturally grown herbs and vegetables (using organic soil and seeds with no pesticides) to Kingston residents and visitors with the help of farmers Joel Zenie and Trish Hawkins. Located at 27 S. Pine St in Kingston (map it), the stand’s hours are 3PM – 7PM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (now through Thanksgiving).

The Farm, founded by Jessica Clark and Rebecca Martin is in cooperation with the Kingston Land Trust on land donated by Diane Davenport of the Binnewater Ice Company. The Farm is a member of Eat Well Kingston, a working group of Live Well Kingston, sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County. “It’s a little pocket of farm in the middle of Kingston” says Hawkins. This year’s crop will include various lettuces, kale, collards, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, mustard greens, radishes, strawberries, sage, parsley and rosemary. Theodore Griese, the newest member of the team, will also be growing fresh flowers, perfect for your all your summer centerpieces.

Stop by for some goodies and you’ll be pining for more of the South Pine Street City Farm Stand again in no time. Open 3PM – 7PM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (now through Thanksgiving).

For more info, visit the South Pine Street City Farm site and like them on Facebook.

Your farmers, Joel Zenie and Trish Hawkins

Your farmers, Joel Zenie and Trish Hawkins.

Cabbage, babies now but growing

Cabbage, babies now but growing.

Happy shoppers with picked to order lettuce and strawberries

Happy shoppers with fresh-picked items.

Trish Hawkins in the strawberry patch

Trish Hawkins in the strawberry patch.

Jess Brooks, manager of Duo Pantry, shops for the store

Jess Brooks, Duo Pantry manager.

Joel and Trish with a customer

Joel and Trish busy with a customer.

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No breaks for Joel.

More customers (and a pooch) line up to shop

More customers line up to shop.

Hey LTA! You Made Our Day!

We’re pretty lucky to have a great group of supporters who pitch in towards our work in lots of ways. A quick shout-out, though, to one special partner – the Land Trust Alliance! LTA is a national association of land trusts and other conservation organizations, and here in New York they work with the Department of Environmental Conservation to administer a special grant program called the New York State Conservation Partnership Program.

Over the past five years, the Kingston Land Trust is proud to have won support through this program several times. Back in 2011, we received our first grant to support the Kingston Rail Trail project, the earliest precursor to the Kingston Greenline. Subsequently, the LTA’s support has helped us in many ways, such as:

  • Completing surveys of the City-owned Ulster & Delaware railroad corridor, to prepare for conversion to a rail trail;
  • Engaging the entire Kingston community in a visioning process that established the conceptual plan for the Kingston Greenline;
  • Enabling us to hire a consultant to complete the KLT’s first-ever strategic plan, and to develop a management plan that will guide our work to assist the City with maintenance and operations of the Kingston Greenline.

This year, LTA’s support will allow the KLT to hire a consultant to help with our ongoing communications and engagement efforts, which are a critical part of how we work to achieve our mission to activate Kingston’s public places. Over the next year, we’ll upgrade our web sites (www.kingstonlandtrust.org and www.kingstongreenline.org), redevelop the KLT brand, and spread the word about our work across a range of media.

Why is communicating and engaging so important? The LTA gets it – in order for us to be successful, we need people to understand the mission we’re pursuing. We need to advocate and educate our community about the benefits of active open spaces in a small city like Kingston – they contribute to a healthier, happier and wealthier community!

While we’re thrilled to have LTA’s support, we still need you, too! To do our daily work on the Kingston Greenline, in urban agriculture, or in protecting important open spaces in and around Kingston, we need volunteers and donors. And all of our grants require matching funds, for which we rely on individual contributors. So pitch in today, if you can!

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Weekend Wander is a wonder

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Hosted by the Kingston Land Trust, the Weekend Wander is an amazing series of monthly walks in and around Kingston. Local experts are invited to talk about the KLT’s exciting projects and all the hidden treasures right here in our backyard. It’s must-do series and as a KLT board member, I was thrilled to attend the most recent June edition. Enjoy my recap below and make sure to join us in July for the next Weekend Wander, scheduled for Sunday, July 17th where we’ll be exploring more of the Rondout section of the Kingston Greenline. Join us! #kltwander #weekendwander

It was a near perfect day for the third installment of the Weekend Wander Series. We met Saturday morning at the Kingston Wine Co. on the Rondout under a sunny and clear blue sky with an out-sized amount of passion for the Kingston Greenline, the Kingston Land Trust and the vitality of Kingston in general that was immediately apparent in the group.

After some introductions KLT’s advisor, Tim Weidemann kicked off the event with a very insightful overview of the future of the Kingston Greenline. We were then on our way up Broadway towards Rondout Savings to walk the Kingston Point Line. The Greenline conversation continued on the way up the hill with very lively discussion between some longtime residents, newcomers and everyone else in between.

It was easy to visualize the concepts we had been discussing coming together when we arrived at the trail head. Tim took a few minutes to share how the trail got to this stage of development and we headed down the trail to the train tunnel. It was a little muddy to cross through, so we headed topside and took the 9W train bridge (which, it was noted, would make a great art installation) to the proposed Delaware Ave. crossing and back down to the trail.

Stepping off of Delaware and into the wooded area of the trail was a magical transformation. From the busy 9W ramps and deafening traffic we stepped into another world. The noise was gone, birds were singing, the air was fresh and you could smell the wildflowers in the breeze. It was wonderful to be able to experience a natural space like that in the middle of the city.

It was then back to the Rondout and the official end of the Wander. Taking advantage of the gorgeous weather, most of us continued on to the Trolley section of the trail to Kingston Point Park. As we rounded the curve a full size barge floated past the Rondout Creek Lighthouse in a surreal image that didn’t seem like it should be possible. There was a short break in the shade to enjoy the waterfront and share some stories before doing a quick exploration of the park. It was a fantastic ending to an excellent experience enjoyed immensely by everyone.

Click here for more info on future Weekend Wanders. #kltwander #weekendwander

Kingston Lighthouse

Kingston Lighthouse

Kingston Point

Kingston Point

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Delaware Ave Tunnel

Weekend Wanderers

Weekend Wanderers

Kingston Point

Hey Trolley

Hey Trolley

Scott is a mechanical design engineer, 10 year Kingston resident and Kingston Land Trust board member who enjoys everything the area has to offer more each day.

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Bike Clinic at the Repair Cafe

Bike-Friendly Kingston is partnering with the Repair Cafe for a special FREE bike clinic!

WHO: Bike Friendly Kingston
WHAT: Bike Clinic at the Repair Cafe
WHEN: Sat, July 30, 11am – 3pm
WHERE: Clinton Avenue United Methodist:
122 Clinton Ave, Kingston, NY 12401
WHY: Learn how to repair your bike in an emergency. Lots of training fixing your flat so you’ll be ready to ride the rest of the summer in ease.

There will be basic bike repair, information, giveaways, helmet fitting and tons of help changing and repairing flats tires. Did I mention it’s FREE?!?

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Weekend Wander – July Edition

Join us for the 4th edition of this season’s Weekend Wander series! In this Wander, we’ll be exploring the Rondout section of the Kingston Greenline rail trail which includes the future Kingston Point segment. #KLTWander #WeekendWander

WHO: Kingston Land Trust
WHAT: Weekend Wander – July Edition
WHEN: Sunday, July 17 at 9:30AM – 12:30PM
WHERE:
WHY: Hike around Kingston with local experts to talk about its exciting projects and hidden treasures right here in our backyard.

Keep checking our site for more details on future hikes. #KLTWander #WeekendWander

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Weekend Wander: Rondout Area Route

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Kingston Night Market – July Edition

The Kingston Night Market is a monthly (JUNE-SEPT) pop-up street festival in the Rondout neighborhood of Kingston. Lower Broadway is transformed via lighting, live music, food and vendor booths. The market features local artists, makers, businesses, non-profits bringing people from all over the Hudson Valley together.

WHO: Kingston Night Market
WHAT: Kingston Night Market – July Edition
WHEN: Friday, July 15, 6PM – 10PM
WHERE: Lower Broadway in the Rondout:
Kingston, New York 12401
WHY: It’s a great way to celebrate Kingston, its waterfront and all the amazingly creative merchants that live and work in the area.

Click here for more info on the Kingston Night Market.

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Ready, Set, Ride!

Bike-Friendly Kingston is partnering with the Kingston Library to support their adult summer reading program “Exercise Your Mind.”

WHO: Bike Friendly Kingston
WHAT: Ready, Set, Ride!
WHEN: Wed, July 13, 5:30pm – 6:30pm
WHERE: Kingston Library:
55 Franklin St, Kingston, NY 12401
WHY: A great summer ride with local bike experts for a great cause… Adult reading!

Bike expert, Tom Polk will have a short talk on bicycle safety before the ride and Emily Flynn, certified by the League of American Bicyclists for the Smart Cycling class, will lead the ride. For more info email reference@kingstonlibrary.org. Registration will be on the Kingston Library site.

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HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon at Williams Lake

TriathlonThe Hudson Valley is a top 20 destination in the world… A top destination deserves a top race! (YEAH) We’re thrilled to introduce HITS Hudson Valley triathlon on July 9 at Williams Lake. You’ll swim in the pristine spring-fed Williams Lake, bike to the majestic Ashokan Reservoir and run on the historic Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.

WHO: HITS Triathlon Series
WHAT: HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon at Williams Lake
WHEN: Sat, July 9, triathlons at various times
Meet and Greet Expo on Fri, July 8, 2pm – 6pm
WHERE: Lake Williams:
424 Williams Lake Rd, Kingston, NY 12401
WHY: HITS Kingston Triathlon is bringing their awesome series to the Hudson Valley.

Races include open, sprint, Olympic, half and full. Click here for more info and to register.

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