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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#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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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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To The Max!

Interview with Maxanne Resnick: Executive Director of the Woodstock Land Conservancy

Maxanne Resnick was appointed as the Executive Director of the Woodstock Land Conservancy late last year. Woodstock, clearly one of the more well-known towns in Ulster County, couldn’t have a more competent leader at the helm of this important organization. Maxanne is a great source of inspiration to us all here at the Kingston Land Trust as she juggles many responsibilities. She’s long-time Ulster Co resident, a mother of two, a die-hard fan of Phoenicia and so much more.

How did you initially get involved with the Woodstock Land Conservancy (WLC)?
Several years ago I met some of the key Woodstock Land Conservancy (WLC) board members. I remained in touch with them, so when my predecessor, Marita Lopez-Mena, decided to step down, a chance encounter with Board President, Patty Goodwin at the 2015 Ulster County Active Transportation Conference proved serendipitous! I’ve been a Catskills area resident for 22 years, mostly in the Phoenicia area, and recently moved to West Hurley. I was appointed Executive Director in January 2016, after having done a 4-month stint with the organization in fundraising. I’ve long admired WLC’s mission of conserving open lands, natural resources, habitat, historic value, with the added lens of climate change and sustainability. The educational programs are inspiring and I was familiar with several of their gorgeous public preserves.

Continue reading To The Max!

A call for Volunteers – WE NEED YOU!!!

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You’ve got a busy schedule. There’s work, kids, pets, the spouse, granny… You’ve got parties, get togethers, social engagements and you’re juggling multiple social media accounts. And then you have to clean the guest house for this weekend’s AirBnB guests… We get it, you’re so busy it’ll make our head spin… So, how could you possibly find time to add another thing to your already packed plate, let alone volunteer your time? Well, it’s simple, because the Kingston Land Trust is an amazing organization and WE NEED YOU!!!

The Kingston Land Trust’s mission is to protect, connect and activate urban open spaces in and around Kingston NY. Our board and members are also volunteers who put in tons of overtime to help make Kingston one of the most special and unique places to live and visit in New York State.

Continue reading A call for Volunteers – WE NEED YOU!!!

An Old Route Offers a Fresh Vision

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Captive in our cars, we know a place by its roads. On foot or bike, we still adhere to the predictable up-and-down, stop-and-turn rhythm of our progress over the pavement. The mile-and-a-half Kingston Greenline rail trail, not yet paved but, with the ties and most of the rails removed, easily traversed, offers a radically different perspective, which awakens your senses like a tonic. Hike down the road embankment from the parking area off Delaware Avenue onto the grassy path and you’ll be at the stone entrance of the Hasbrouck Avenue Tunnel. Built in 1870, it’s a Victorian-era industrial artifact of arched brick, dark, damp and spooky. In the other direction, you pass over a modern steel 9W overpass high above the roaring traffic. With graffiti adorning its paneled sides, it’s an impromptu gallery of art, immersed in space and light.

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Continue reading An Old Route Offers a Fresh Vision

A girl, her dog, the trail, our town

Dana at entrance to trail

Kingston Point Park and Kingston Beach are two of my favorite parts of living in the Rondout neighborhood in downtown Kingston. The improved Kingston Point section of the Kingston Greenline trail that runs along the tracks has now been extended from Kingston Point Park, and reaches all the way to East Strand by Gill Street.

I love riding my bike down East Strand & hopping onto the Greenline trail along the tracks to watch the sun set at the beach. The Hudson river is beautiful & represents so much in New York State’s history. I feel lucky to live in a city with access to this beautiful body of water.

Kingston Beach Sunny

Evening walker at sunset(1)

Continue reading A girl, her dog, the trail, our town

Complete Streets Are For Everyone!

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Have you noticed that sometimes getting around Kingston whether you are on foot, on bike, on the bus, or in your car just seems awkward, frustrating, or downright unsafe? Sometimes we like to blame that crazy driver or the crazy pedestrian for a nearly missed accident. But what if the system we are traveling in could be designed better to minimize conflicts between different travel modes? Enter the concept of Complete Streets.

Complete Streets are streets that safely accommodate all users – pedestrians, bicyclists, disabled people, transit users, and automobiles. They are safe, comfortable, and convenient for people of all abilities and using all different modes of travel. Not all Complete Streets look the same. For example Fair St. in Uptown Kingston is relatively complete. It is somewhat low traffic, the sidewalks are wide, and biking on it feels safe. On the other hand, Broadway in Kingston is not complete. Although the sidewalks are wide, it is very challenging and dangerous to cross the road, pedestrian, bike, and automobile conflicts are common, and buses are not as frequent as they could be. Shorter crossing zones, bike lanes, and better public transit accommodations are needed to make Broadway complete. Continue reading Complete Streets Are For Everyone!