An Interview with Matt Allen of Saratoga Associates

We’ve been waiting in anticipation for the Kingston Point Rail Trail to become a reality. It’s been shrouded in some mystery…but no longer. It’s happening, and soon! We were so excited to chat with Matthew Allen from Saratoga Associates, the firm tasked with designing the Kingston Point Rail Trail – one part of the overall Kingston Greenline – to find out all the important details about his firm and this great new addition to our lovely city of Kingston… Go Kingston Greenline!

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Hasbrouck at Delaware Trail Node Design

Tell us about your team – who’s involved in a project like this, and what do they do?
The project team is led by Saratoga Associates (“Saratoga”), a multi-disciplinary professional firm with four decades of experience in providing landscape architectural, architectural, planning, and engineering services throughout the Northeast. Our firm employs best management practices for sustainable design for a variety of urban project types including transit oriented development, complete streets, pedestrian and bicycle greenways, and downtown development. Saratoga Associates’ Principal-in-Charge of the this project, Matthew Allen, authored the successful Economic Development (Empire) Zone application for the City of Kingston two decades ago, and more recently provided concept design for AVR Realty’s Hudson Landing waterfront promenade.

KC Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. (“KC”), a certified Disadvantaged and Minority Business Enterprise (D/MBE), assisted the team with land surveying, civil engineering, and regulatory compliance. Poughkeepsie-based KC is a diversified, multi-disciplined consulting engineering firm providing comprehensive engineering and surveying services including civil, structural, geotechnical, traffic and transportation engineering, and complete survey and right-of-way mapping. KC’s Project Manager, Nancy Clark, PE, is an Ulster County resident who has been actively involved in planning and preparation activities for the Kingston Point Rail Trail (KRPT).

Hone Strategic, LLC (“Hone”) served as the team’s liaison with City officials and community stakeholders, as well as providing valuable background and insight into the existing conditions and integration of the City’s various plans in connection with the KPRT project. Hone, a local business based in Kingston’s historic Rondout District, specializes in urban planning, adaptive reuse, and facilitation of community outreach and participation. Hone’s principal, Jennifer Schwartz Berky, specializes in a variety of community planning projects including a wide range of successful projects, such as the adaptive reuse of many types of structures, historic waterfront community planning, commercial district revitalization, infrastructure and site planning and development, and several major grant awards for capital projects.

Please take a moment to explain the Kingston Greenline project you’re working on?
In recent years, the City of Kingston has enthusiastically pursued a vision of a connected community. These efforts have resulted in several State and Federal grants for the Kingston Connectivity Project (KCP), which envisions an interconnected, multi-modal cityscape with Complete Streets and the Greenline – a network of trails on repurposed rail beds, bike paths, complete streets, and linear parks converging in Midtown Kingston as a hub of an extensive regional trails system.

The City government has undertaken a number of initiatives, including the KCP, to support Kingston’s social, environmental, and economic fabric through strategic initiatives and partnerships in business, arts, education and technology. The development of connectivity through trails and Complete Streets and is a critical aspect of livability, public health and “complete communities.”

The Kingston Connectivity Project is an important implementation phase of the larger Greenline plan. The KCP provides a shared road bikeway and dedicated rail trail connecting Midtown Kingston with the Rondout and Kingston Point waterfront. The key component of the KCP is the construction of the long planned Kingston Point Rail Trail. The Kingston Point Rail Trail will be the first trail to be implemented in the Greenline network and represents a significant opportunity to become a model for connectivity for trails and streets throughout the city.

What’s the most exciting part of the project?
The best part of participating in the Kingston Connectivity Project is that it will be constructed in the very near future. So often our work falls into the category of long range planning. While we are always excited to design for a more livable community, it is particularly rewarding to work on projects that we can bring our families and friends to immediately. I very much look forward to bringing my bike to Kingston to ride along the path our team helped create.

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Jansen Avenue Trailhead Design

Are there any other linear park projects in existence that are inspiring your designs for the Kingston Greenline?
The design for the Kingston Point Rail Trail and shared road system draws off of the best characteristics of a number of urban bikeways. There is really no single project that is used as a model. The focus of the design was creating trailheads and park nodes along the pathway that serve as gateways into the trail system and double as public gathering places and neighborhood scale parks along the way. Street furnishings, amenities and signage reflect the historic characteristics of the City and remain consistent with the best aspects of recent streetscape and park improvements in the City.

What is the most significant planning issue currently facing the Kingston Greenline? What is the solution?
The Kingston Connectivity Project was funded through a grant awarded by The NYS Department of State. This grant allows for design and construction of this component of the multi-phase Greenline program. The challenge going forward is for the City to continue to pursue additional public and private grants to build upon the success of this first phase. Fortunately, the Kingston Greenline Conceptual Plan represents a significant investment in multi-modal community planning. Combined with implementation of the Kingston Connectivity Project the City is well positioned to compete successfully for additional grant-based funding sources.

In addition, the City recognizes that one of the most challenging planning issues is the connection of the Greenline on streets in a way that maintains the continuity and brandings of the trail design, is safe, and meets the needs of all street users.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be when it comes to building it?
The Kingston Point Rail Trail had a couple if interesting engineering challenges. The 250-foot long Hasbrouck Avenue tunnel is a unique structure in rail trail design. While structurally sound, the dark tunnel needed to be improved so that users would feel safe passing through this confined corridor. To minimize the tunnel length the ceiling will be removed for a 50 foot long section at the east end, opening the corridor to daylight. A lighting system has also been designed that will illuminate the tunnel and provide direct visibility across its length. The lighting design uses decorative light fixtures that project consistent down lighting. The lighting system will also project upward to create patterns of shade and light on the tunnel’s historic stone walls and barrel vault ceiling. The tunnel also required an engineered paving system and surface flow drainage that will keep the trail dry, even during heavy precipitation.

The current rail bed also includes three abandoned historic steel trestles adjacent to the Rondout Gardens Apartments. We were able to include renovation of two of the three bridges by engineering a new timber deck and railings. However, engineers determined that the third bridge as highly deteriorated and unsafe for trail use. For this reason, the trail will divert for now after the second trestle and ramp back down to street level. The City is planning to work with Saratoga Associates more on the final design to extend the trail past the third trestle so that the trail can continue to its next destination at the Trolley Museum. The next challenge will be connecting the trail from the Trolley Museum out to Kingston Point.

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Rondout Gardens Trailhead Design

Will you be collaborating with any local designers or artists on the project? Explain?
Saratoga Associates provided bike rack design specs to the O+Festival, which is facilitating an O+ Bike Rack Art Competition for the 2016 Festival.  The O+Festival was funded by an American Planning Association grant managed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County through the Live Well Kingston coalition to develop the competition. The 2016 competition will be for the “Cornell Street Bike Rack.” Saratoga is incorporating locations for the bike racks into the street design. When O+ announces the winning bike rack, it will hopefully be produced locally and installed on Cornell Street, which is part of the Complete Streets hub of the Kingston Greenline.

Are there ways in which your design reflects the natural and cultural history of Kingston?
The design incorporates street furnishings including light fixtures, bollards, kiosks and signage that draw from the historic vernacular of the City. Opportunities exist to install interpretive stations along the trail route that highlight Kingston’s unique natural history and cultural heritage. The City will be working with the Trolley Museum of New York on the final design of the Trolley Trailhead. The Trolley Museum has expressed interest to incorporate kiosks for interpretation to include the story of public transit in Kingston.

How do you see the Greenline project affecting Kingston’s growth?
Kingston’s historic rail lines offer an extraordinary adaptive reuse opportunity for the community. The design and implementation of a trail network connecting residents and visitors to the Hudson River waterfront will raise the city’s profile as a livable, walkable community and a vibrant destination.

Not only do trails provide connections, they also become the lifeblood of communities. Each place where they intersect streets, nodes, and public spaces, they become opportunities for transformation, landscape restoration, and economic development.

What is your design approach for the various trailheads? Are they each unique or do they share some cohesive elements?
The Kingston Point Rail Trail includes trailheads at the Jansen/East Chester and Rondout Gardens access points. The trailheads are designed as small park nodes that highlight the trail gateway and double as public gathering places and neighborhood scale parks along the way. A small pocket park is also included where the rail trail crosses Delaware Avenue and Murray Street. This park takes advantage of a triangle shaped parcel at the intersection offering a mid-trail rest spot. Each trailhead/park uses the same design elements including pavers, lighting benches, bollards, kiosks and signage to maintain consistency throughout the corridor. These trailheads will not be built with the initial phase of construction, but the City will continue to seek funding to complete the trailheads. They recently submitted a Consolidated Funding Application for construction of the trailheads.

What comes next? What can people expect as the project continues
We expect that the plans for the Kingston Point Rail Trail will go out to bid this fall or early spring 2017. The City has created a new partnership with the Trolley Museum of New York. This partnership is essential to eventually extending the trail from its current planned terminus at Rondout Gardens all the way to the Trolley Museum and East Strand Street. From here it is an easy connection to the recently constructed pedestrian path along the trolley route to Kingston Point.

Over the longer term, the City, along with its community partners, will continue to pursue grant opportunities to implement other components of the Greenline Plan to progressively build the integrated and complete trail network throughout Kingston.

When Is a Trail More Than Just a Trail?

Ulster County Multi-Use Trail System Map

Ulster County’s system of multi-use trails continues to expand.

If you’ve been following the Kingston Land Trust’s work over the past three years, you’ve heard us go on about how the Kingston Greenline will be an interconnected system of trails throughout the City, right? Well, zoom out a bit on the map, and it’s easy to see that the same system that will link up all parts of the City will eventually serve as the hub for a sprawling network of trails throughout Ulster County.

On Monday, August 15th, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance are hosting a breakfast presentation titled “More Than Just a Trail: Preparing for the Potential of the Countywide Trail System,” featuring Cynthia Nikitin of the Project for Public Spaces as the keynote speaker. Among the trail groups around Ulster County, we often talk about the countywide trail system as the logical extension of our work. But what does it mean, and why is it a goal worth all of our hard work over the past decade and for the foreseeable future?

Lippman Park Mountain Bike Festival Poster

The countywide trail system is more than just rail trails!

For the full answer, you’ll have to get your ticket and come to the breakfast! But here’s a little preview:

The Countywide Trail System is more than just a trail. All the buzz these days focuses around rail trails. And there’s good reason, since rail trails are often a community’s first glimpse at a true multi-use trail, one that’s designed to accommodate all types of active transportation and recreation uses. But Ulster County’s trail system includes more than just rail trails. From the carriage roads of Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park, to the Long Path; from the single-track mountain bike trails of Lippman Park or Jockey Hill, to the bridle paths of Coyote Ridge Stables or the Rocking Horse Ranch; from bike lanes in our downtown areas to the Shawangunk Wine Trail to scenic byways to the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail, Ulster County’s diversity and expanse of trails is…well, in a word, unparalleled.

Summer Cover of American Trails Magazine

For rural communities, trails can help capture more tourism spending.

Trail systems are big business for small towns. We’ve all heard the mantra – service jobs are great, but manufacturing’s what really matters for economic development. Look closer, though, and there’s a problem with that mantra. How many manufacturing jobs has your small town added over the past decade? A handful, maybe? Or probably, like most communities, it’s not about how many have been added, but about how many have been lost. And the truth is that there’s no willing them back into existence. Instead, take a look at the communities along the Great Allegheny Passage in Southwestern PA. We think we’ve had it hard; these towns have been in a state of decline since…well, since they were established! Yet over the past few years, the trail has helped them reinvent themselves. In 2012, an impact study by the Trail Town Program estimated $50,000,000 in direct spending by trail visitors, which helped support a net gain of 65 new businesses from 2007 – 2015. In 2014, businesses along the trail attributed 40% of their annual sales to traffic from the trail.

George Inness, Catskill Mountains, 1870.

George Inness, Catskill Mountains, 1870. From the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Ulster County’s got the raw materials; now it’s up to us to make the most of them. There are some pretty spectacular trails and trail systems out there, for sure. But if we put our minds to it, nothing can compete with Ulster County. Consider this: Ulster County lies within a four hour drive of over 40 million people, and less than two hours from three major international airports. Ulster County has a rich history drawing from its early settlement by Dutch colonists and, prior to that, its importance as a center of trade for the Lenape tribes. Ulster County has a world-wide reputation as home to many of the Hudson River School painters and as the epicenter of the hippie movement that emerged after the Woodstock Festival. Ulster County has over 250,000 acres of forever-wild forest and dozens of scenic rivers and lakes. Kingston, the County seat, was the original capital of New York State and the birthplace of the state’s constitution. Ulster County has one of the world’s best rock climbing areas, the Shawangunk Ridge, and a mecca for fly fishing. Plus renowned galleries, world-class eateries, great antiquing, year-round festivals, skiing, and (soon) rail biking.

Phew! What’s all that got to do with trails, you ask? Well, the answer is simple: we’re building more than just a trail. We’re building the Ulster County experience. In the end, we think that’s where all these trails will lead. Join us on August 15th to see for yourself how a trail can be more than just a trail.

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Chronogram on the Block

Chronogram Block Party

The Chronogram Block Party is BACK for round 4 on August 20, 2016 in Uptown Kingston! Don’t know what the Block Party is? Well, I’m here to give you the scoop.

It all started back in 2013 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chronogram and everyone loved it so much they asked us to do it again. So, 4 years later, here we are!

Each year, Chronogram works with the City of Kingston to shut down Wall Street between North Front and John Streets to throw a HUGE, FREE, outdoor event. Local businesses open late and we provide… Live music, a beer and wine garden, photo booth, Chronogram cover-outs (you know, those big things you stick your head in and take funny pictures? See my example.), food trucks, a dunking booth to benefit charity (this year we have Walkway Over the Hudson), DIY art tent, sidewalk chalk, Bike Valet Parking thanks to the Kingston Land Trust (bring your bike and the KLT will watch it while you party) AND so much more! 

There will also be street performers wondering around in the crowd, a live Instagram feed presented by AT&T #ChronogramBlockParty and beach balls. What’s with the beach balls you ask? Well, they’re sponsored by Herzog’s and Kingston Plaza this year and let me tell you, you can have a lot of fun with 250 beach balls, a huge crowd and great music. 

Speaking of great music, this year’s line-up promises to get your off your feet and dancing in the street! We’ve got the Rosendale Improvement Society Brass Band, POOK, Karma Darwin, Kyle and the Pity Party, And the Kids, Mad Satta and Big Mean Sound Machine! All amazing and all totally danceworthy.

The Block Party lasts from 4PM – 11PM and for those of you who want to keep dancing the night away, we’ll be moving the party into BSP Kingston on Wall Street for the after-party until 2AM!

And just when you think the party’s over… It’s not! We’re working with Redwood, a new delicious bar/restaurant over on North Front Street, to present the Block Party Morning After brunch! Save your beer and wine garden or after-party wristband from Saturday to really start your Sunday Funday off the right way with discounted Mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s. Reservations highly recommended, especially if you want to snag a spot up on the roof! 

The Chronogram Block Party is a jam-packed weekend of good old fashioned community fun taking place on August 20th on Wall Street in Uptown Kingston. Check out our website for some more fun stuff, RSVP to our Facebook event OR follow yours truly on Twitter @ChronoSamm to stay in the know as we announce even more amazing things happening that day.

Special shout out to all of our sponsors, we couldn’t do it with out you! Health Quest, Bard College SummerScape, Herzog’s Home Center, Kingston Plaza, Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa, Best Western Plus Kingston Hotel And Conference Center, Radio Woodstock 100.1 WDST, Rhinebeck Bank, RUPCO, Emerson Resort & Spa, Thomas F Cingel DDS, and SUNY New Paltz!

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Samm (Not Sam) aka ChronoSamm spends most of her time planning awesome events for the Hudson Valley. When she’s not running around making sure everyone is having a good time, she’s watching football (GO Giants!), going to the beach, being a foodie with her hubby, or snuggling with her favorite puppy pal, Olive.

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#KingstonParks

Kingston and its surroundings are packed with amazing nature, beautiful views and fantastic parks. It really is like living in a paradise. I’d like to share some of my favorite parks with you. Please hit up social media and share pictures of your favorite Kingston parks… #KingstonParks

Dog Park action shot (LtoR) M.J. and Gemma_Debra Bresnan

Dog Park action shot (L to R) M.J. and Gemma

Kingston Point Dog Park

This awesome park is a must-go destination for dog lovers and their happy dogs. It opened in July 2013, and people drive here from neighboring towns, even those that have a dog park, because there are two enclosed areas – one each, for smaller and bigger dogs – with plenty of room to run and play. Its friendly atmosphere has been great for Gemma, who is a rescue dog, because she didn’t interact much with other dogs or people in her previous life. Going to the KPDP has helped her to get over a lot of her fear-based issues while doing two of her favorite things – running, fast, and playing with balls. I love meeting new people there, and it’s a great place to catch up with friends. You never know what you’ll talk about while you’re standing around, watching dogs have fun. The nearby Lenape Trail is beautiful too! Dog park dreams? A simple pavilion – there’s a lot less shade since three beautiful trees were felled due to beetle infestation — and a water faucet inside the park for thirsty dogs.

Hudson River Promenade_Debra Bresnan

Hudson River Promenade

Kingston Rotary Park and Hudson River Promenade (Kingston Greenline)

OK, this park is another favorite because of … Gemma! We love walking in any weather, but summer brings the added pleasure of splashing in the water and retrieving sticks. For Gemma, I mean. I haven’t mastered the art of fetching sticks in my mouth, yet, but she has and she loves playing in the water. Rotary Park has lovely rolling hillsides and private picnic areas (inland on the grassy areas, where there’s also a large pavilion, and on a few tables scattered along the shores of the river). The Promenade is a great place to barge-watch and I love listening to the waves lapping while walking on Kingston’s beautiful new pathway along the Hudson River.

Cornell Park 3_Debra Bresnan

Cornell Park

Cornell Park

I almost hesitate to tell you about my sweet little neighborhood oasis as it’s often true there’s not another soul there. On cool days, its abundant sunshine gives you a nice dose of natural vitamin D. And, when it’s sweltering, its old growth shade trees offer a welcome respite – and under them, the grass IS always greener. There’s a hill to roll (or sled) down, scattered benches, and flowering bushes by the Veterans’ Monument that are beautiful in springtime. The view of our beautiful Rondout always brings a smile – plus amazing sunsets and moonrises, too. Kingston has many beautiful churches, but the spire directly across Wurts Street – on The Celebration Chapel, with its bold red doors – and the one towering above the nearby Church des Artistes are impressive accents when you turn your eyes inland again.

Debra Bresnan joined the KLT Board of Directors in April 2014, and is active on the Fundraising Committee. She’s a self-employed writer and editor who loves listening to live music, taking photographs, walking along the Rondout Promenade, gardening and traveling when she’s not fascinated by her computer screen.

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4th Annual Chronogram Block Party

chrogramEach year, Chronogram Magazine shuts down Wall Street between N Front and John Sts to throw a HUGE, FREE, outdoor event. Local businesses open late and there’s live music, a beer and wine garden, photo booth, food trucks, a dunk tank to benefit charity, DIY art tent, Bike Valet Parking AND so much more!

WHO: Chronogram Magazine
WHAT: 4th Annual Chronogram Block Party
WHEN: Saturday, August 20, 4PM – 11PM
WHERE: Wall Street:
Wall Street (btwn N Front St & John St) Kingston, NY
WHY: Live Music and entertainment, food, drinks and just plain ole fun for the whole family. It’s a PARTY!!!

For more info, check out this AMAZING post from Samm Liotta at Chronogram.

Kingston Night Market: August Edition

kingston.night_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: August Edition
WHEN: Friday, August 19, 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.

Building Ulster County Together Breakfast

Hosted by County Executive Mike Hein and the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance, the Building Ulster County Together Breakfast is a quarterly series for Ulster County business leaders, featuring guest speakers from a range of disciplines who are helping to Build a Better Ulster County.

WHO: County Executive Mike Hein
WHAT: Building Ulster County Together Breakfast
WHEN: Monday, August 15, 7:30AM – 9:30AM
WHERE: Best Western Plus:
503 Washington Ave, Kingston, NY 12401
WHY: Mike Hein and his team are GREAT and will be discussing the Countywide Trail Systems and how they’ll impact businesses. Tickets are $20 (includes breakfast).

A GREAT opportunity to network and collaborate to grow your business. Click here to register NOW.

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Kingston Artist Soapbox Derby

The Kingston Artist Soapbox Derby, now celebrating 21 years, is a parade of non-motorized kinetic sculptures capable of rolling down lower Broadway in Kingston, NY. It brings professional artists, the creatively inclined, families and friends together to show off their wild, wacky, and original soapbox creations.

WHO: Kingston Artist Soapbox
WHAT: 21st Annual Soapbox Derby
WHEN: Sunday, August 14 at 12PM
WHERE: Rondout in Kingston:
Broadway & Spring St, Kingston, NY 12401
WHY: The Kingston Artist Soapbox Derby is a truly unique family friendly event that promotes the arts and draws participants and spectators alike from far and wide

Check-in and assembly is at 10AM. The cars roll at 12PM noon. Bands! Food! Vendors!

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Smorgasburg: Upstate

Smorgasburg: Upstate is finally here! Brooklyn’s finest market is launching on August 6 in Kingston! This weekly market will feature some of the Hudson Valley and upstate region’s most exciting chefs, food purveyors, and craft brewers alongside a curated selection of handmade design, vintage clothing and antiques.

WHO: Smorgasburg
WHAT: Smorgasburg: Upstate!
WHEN: Saturdays, Aug-Oct, 11AM – 6PM
WHERE: Hutton Brickyards:
200 North St, Kingston, NY 12401
WHY: Get ready to EAT, SHOP & EXPLORE with some of the Hudson Valley’s best chefs, restaurants, designers and shop keepers.

Open Saturdays August through October in the historic Hutton Brickyards overlooking the Hudson River.

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