Linear Thinking Sometimes Good For Parks

Proximity to parks in Kingston: (current)

Kingston Land Trust

What do you imagine when you think of the word “park”? Is it a green patch with benches and picnic tables? A rugged wilderness with backcountry hiking trails? Or something in-between? In-between urban and rural parks–both conceptually and physically–are linear parks. Linear parks often consist of a trail and the narrow strip of land surrounding the trail (think of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, which ends at Kingston’s doorstep). While their linearity is clear, their “park-ness” is less so. But think–a linear park has nature, trails, and points of interest like benches and bridges. A linear park IS a park, simply a different kind of park, with the added benefit of providing transportation between bigger parks (“polygon parks”?), neighborhoods, and cities.

Take Kingston: our city is nestled between the Hudson River and Catskill Park, creating a lot of great potential for nature experiences and exercise. However, many neighborhoods are a mile or more from big parks—places to watch animals, play sports, or follow a trail. More Kingstonians have access to small parks, which are excellent places for people to relax on a bench, read a book, or pass on a neighborhood stroll. Still, Midtown has a problem area—residents need to walk almost a mile (through wide, busy streets) to get to a park. If you won’t or can’t walk more than ½ a mile to a park, Midtown Kingston is a “park desert”.

Linear parks may be the solution. The rail trails, complete streets, and “rails with trails” planned or currently criss-crossing Kingston together form a network of linear parks—called the Kingston Greenline – would bring Kingstonians closer to bigger parks, closer to work, and closer to shopping. I propose that these trails would also bring Kingstonians closer to each other, both physically and symbolically. And beyond Kingston, a network of linear parks (supported by Ulster County and the Greenway) has the potential to connect the Catskills to the Walkway Over the Hudson by connecting Kingston to New Paltz, and eventually Highland and Poughkeepsie. When it comes to parks, linear thinking sometimes is the right way to go!

Proximity to parks in Kingston: (when linear parks are included)

Kingston Land Trust
GIS map legend kingston parks

Blog and GIS Maps by Tom O’Dowd (Bard College staff member & Wallkill Valley Land Trust board member)

Source: O’Dowd, Tom (2014). Investigating Park Deserts: Improving Park Access in Kingston, NY. GIS Poster Presentation. Click here for PDF

1 comment to Linear Thinking Sometimes Good For Parks

  • Jim Semon

    A network of Kingston linear parks, particularly along mid-town section of Broadway, makes sense in so many ways. This network would enhance the beauty of Kingston, create safe routes for walkers, parents with strollers, cyclists, and runners. My wife and I often visit relatives in Kingston, from our home in Asheville, NC, where we are developing linear parks and greenways. Our excitement and plans are growing! I hope that Kingston business owners and residents unite to see what potential linear parks has for the heart of this lovely, historic area. Jim and Roxanne

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