Meet our President… Andi Turco-Levin

Andi Turco-Levin

If you don’t know and love Kingston luminary Andi Turco-Levin then you must be living under a rock. Andi is an award-winning Ulster county realtor, a local radio personality and a former alderman. She’s also a vintage car enthusiast, a dog agility competitor (with her prize-winning Westies named Lily, Spencer, Kirby and Cricket) and the President of the Kingston Land Trust’s Board of Directors. She’s pretty much amazing at everything she does and we’re lucky to have her at the helm of KLT. We recently had a chance to ask Andi about her and her work with the Kingston Land Trust.

Look for Andi on the dance floor on April 15th, 2016 in “Dancing with the Stars: Ulster Style” benefiting The United Way. Get your tix NOW!

How did you initially get involved with the Kingston Land Trust?
Back in 2010 when I was serving as 1st Ward Alderman in Kingston I met Gregg Swanzey who was talking about the conversion of the old Kingston Trolley line into a walking path as well as the development of the other abandoned railroad lines that ran through the City of Kingston. I had invited him to speak at one of my Ward meetings to share his vision about the concept so the residents knew this could be a great asset for them. I had recently been on tour with my husband (bassist Tony Levin) where we had visited San Antonio, TX with its River Walk that ran through the city. It was lovely and I could envision something like that for Kingston. I got involved with The Rail Trail Committee which is actually a project of the Kingston Land Trust. The work that the KLT was doing interested me as they were beginning to talk about urban agriculture/farming and preservation of the green spaces that exist in our urban environment. After leaving the Common Council I had mentioned to Rebecca Martin who was then the Executive Director for the KLT that I would love to be involved in their efforts. I attended a few meetings then joined the Board of Directors in 2012. I became Chairperson in January of 2014. I never realized how unique and complex the work can be but it has been an amazing journey so far and I have worked with so many talented and amazing people.

Continue reading Meet our President… Andi Turco-Levin

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.

The Kingston Land Trust Welcomes its Newest Board Director Renno Budziak of the Town of Ulster.

The Kingston Land Trust Welcomes its Newest Board Director Renno Budziak of the Town of Ulster.   Mr. Budziak’s involvement and expertise is a step in representing the Town of Ulster in the Kingston Land Trust’s efforts to protect and preserve land in their mission area.

Kingston, NY–   The Kingston Land Trust is proud to announce the addition of Renno Budziak of the Town of Ulster to their Board of Directors. Mr. Budziak immigrated to this country with his parents and two older brothers in 1952 and settled and grew up in Newburgh, N.Y. Like his brothers, he pursued an Engineering career and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Trine University. He worked on an MBA degree with a concentration on New Product Venture Management at Syracuse University. He was hired as a new product design engineer by Ingersoll-Rand and as a result of a productive and successful design career, he became Manager of Engineering and was responsible for all Engineering related aspects and functions. He was issued a number of U.S. and international patents associated with his new product designs. After a seventeen year career with Ingersoll-Rand, he was recruited by Huck International where he was Vice President of Engineering. He is now enjoying an active retirement.

Beyond his career oriented responsibilities, Renno was and continues to be involved with a number of community related activities, some of which include: Former Board member of Sayre-Athens, Pa. Joint Sewer Authority; Former Board Chairman of Junior Achievement, an operational business simulation for high school students; Founding member and former Co-President of Rondout Rowing Club; Former member and Chairman of the Town of Ulster Planning Board; Former member of the Town of Ulster Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee; Current member of the Ulster County Planning Board and member of its Executive Committee and Task Force member of the Walkill Valley Rail Trail.

As the newest Board Director of the Kingston Land Trust, Renno is looking forward to collaboratively work with the Board in achieving the objectives of its stated mission and vision and thus through its actions, endeavor to improve the quality of life in our regional community.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Martin, Executive Director at 845/877-5263 or email kingstonlandtrust.org

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The Kingston Land Trust Board of Directors Retreat and Walk Their Properties in February

The stellar Board of Directors at the Kingston Land Trust. (L-R) Tim Weidemann, Gregg Swanzey, Andi Turco-Levin, Beth Roessler, Scarlet Duba, Steve Noble, Barbara Epstein, Kevin McEvoy, Brad Will and Matt Gillis.

 

The Kingston Land Trust Board of Directors met today to walk their properties and view their other projects as well as to have a relaxing afternoon together.

Here, the group looks closely at their parcel on Yoemans Street in historic Ponckhockie.

 

We were conveyed this lot by the City of Kingston in 2010 with hopes of working with the neighbors in the Ponckhockie section to create a small garden at the south end of the parcel that is mostly level and receives sunlight. The north end that connects to Yeomans Street has steep slopes, difficult terrain, is shaded and covered with poison ivy. The lot is a demapped street once connecting Yeomans Street to East Union St. The East Union frontage was conveyed by the City sometime ago so the parcel has only frontage on Yeomans Street. At the time of the conveyance we were made aware of an underground drainage easement to be retained by the City referred to as Tunnel Street. The demapped street appears on 1854 map for George North and Walter B. Crane who owned and subdivided the area at that time and had grading of slopes performed including the grading of the Revolutionary militia battleworks believed to have been located in this area which is discussed in Schoonmakers’s History of Kingston.

Originally it was thought that this steep north section of the parcel might have been the east slope of the Revolutionary battleworks site where the local Ulster County militia was stationed in October 16, 1777 when the British arrived to burn Kingston. Besides Schoonmakers’s History of Kingston, the battleworks have been discussed with a drawing depicting the general area in 1849 prior to North & Crane’s grading in Lossing’s Fieldbook of the Revolution and have been the subject of discussions with City Historian Ed Ford and military historian Col. James Johnson. As part of a separate National Historic Register nomination concerning another site in Ponckhockie, I reviewed and documented possible and known roads in 1777 and possible locations of the militia battleworks.

KLT Executive Director Rebecca Martin at the South Pine Street City Farm in Kingston. Photo by Andi Turco-Levin

After taking title, our executive director Rebecca Martin inspected the site, met the adjoining neighbors and was made aware by them of the significance of Tunnel Street. While there may be Revolutionary significance yet to be determined, the name Tunnel Street refers to a Tunnel entrance located on the site now sealed shut which leads into the former Newark Lime & Cement Company quarries in nearby Hasbrouck Park.

Kevin McEvoy, Vice Chair – The Kingston Land Trust

 

The Kingston Land Trust Celebrates Board Director Gregg Swanzey

The Kingston Land Trust is thrilled to announce and congratulate Board Director and Chair of the Kingston Land Trust Rail Trail Committee Gregg Swanzey who is now the City of Kingston’s new Director of Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships.

Gregg, who lives in Kingston’s Rondout, spent years at sea aboard sailing research and education ships including a Humpback whale research program aboard a barkentine in Arctic waters off Greenland and as captain for a Soviet-American cultural exchange transAtlantic from Leningrad to New York via Iceland and Newfoundland.  He logged tens of thousands of miles at sea and now still regularly finds his way out onto tidal waters in a kayak launched from the docks at the Strand.

Gregg’s background includes grants management and corporate relations for Mohonk Preserve, Executive Director for a gubernatorially appointed commission in Massachusetts, and Executive Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. He has served as advisor to The Boston Foundation, Massachusetts Environmental Trust, and the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts and has extensive background in maritime preservation, education, and management of public and private organizations. Today, he serves on the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, Complete Streets Advisory Council, and the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee.

Gregg holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and an MBA from UMASS Dartmouth.

It is a privilege to work with Gregg who has helped the Kingston Land Trust secure grants working towards a Midtown Hub Rail Trail system from the Land Trust Alliance,  PTNY (Parks & Trails NY), the Hudson Valley Greenway, National Park Service and CDBG (Community Development Block Grant).

The City of Kingston is fortunate to have this Kingston resident at their service in this way, and we expect to see great things in the future with his expertise.

 

* In Today’s Daily Freeman:  Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo names new head of Economic Development.