Ashokan Rail Trail Meeting Recap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ashokan Rail Trail, first proposed in 2012 by Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, getting closer and closer to construction. When completed in 2018, it will provide 11.5 miles of a world-class public recreational trail bordering the northern edge of the Ashokan Reservoir. While motorized vehicles will not be permitted, the trail will offer access for hikers, bikers, walkers and runners, nature enthusiasts, skiers, and snowshoe devotees. It will also provide outdoor opportunities for persons with limited mobility or other disabilities.

Ulster County executive Mike Hein. Photo courtesy of the Ulster County Executive’s Office.

To share current developments with community residents, the Ulster County Planning Department held a public information meeting on December 1, 2016 at Onteora High School in Boiceville. Chris White, deputy director commissioner of the department shared a timetable for the project:

  • Preliminary engineering design and environmental review began in June, 2016.
  • Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2017.
  • Grand opening anticipated in 2018.

Those who attended the meeting were overwhelmingly in favor of the project for many reasons. It will provide a variety of healthy outdoor activities close to home. In turn, the community at large will be healthier. It will enable everyone to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. And it will be a boost to the local economy, since it’s expected to attract an additional 140,000 visitors to the area each year.

Ulster & Delaware railroad tracks looking toward the Ashokan Reservoir from the Route 28A overpass at Boiceville, NY. Photo by Tony Adamis

The Ashokan Reservoir supplies drinking water to New York City and is strictly controlled by its Department of Environmental Protection. However, the trail will follow the former Ulster & Delaware railroad corridor that runs around the northern perimeter of the reservoir.

A packed house! About 344 people attended the Public Information Meeting on the Ashokan Rail Trail project on 12/1/16. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail.

Some attendees at the Onteora meeting were concerned about dismantling the railroad bed, but it has not been used for train service in forty years. White explained that the trail is being developed with the understanding that it could also be returned to a railroad bed if the need arose in the future.

The project is budgeted at $8.5 million dollars, funded from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the state DEC, and money from FEMA. It covers surfacing the trail with crushed stone, improving drainage and regarding the former rail bed. There will be signage, fencing, and other amenities as well as three new trailheads along the route. Boiceville trestle and Butternut Creek culvert will also be replaced.

Proponents of this project have worked tirelessly since Mike Hein first proposed it. With county residents behind it and the funding in place, it’s been five years in the planning.

And it’s almost here! We’ll keep you updated on future progress, but to get the info straight from the source, visit catskillmountainrailtrail.org, or follow @FriendsOfTheCatskillMountainRailTrail on Facebook.

Walking on Sunshine: A Walkable Neighborhood

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you enjoy living where you do? Is it because of the nearby amenities and conveniences? Perhaps you prefer to be out in the country because you love the outdoors and live an active lifestyle. The reasons can be as unique the individual but the fact is real estate values increase when there are trails nearby. Trails add so much to the community if you think about it. They are important on many levels which include recreation, transportation routes, and scenic beauty, not to mention the healthy lifestyle benefits. One of the best examples of how a trail can impact the transition of a neighborhood is New York City’s High Line on the far west side of Manhattan. The conversion of an old abandoned railroad bed turned into a pedestrian path transformed an entire neighborhood from a desolate and far removed area into a thriving enclave with new apartment buildings, restaurants, and pocket parks with trees, green space, and a connection to the Hudson River. Real estate prices have skyrocketed since the High Line’s completion and the reason for that is simple. People want convenience and an active lifestyle is a common thread from Baby-Boomers to Millennials. Having this amenity nearby is something that adds value.

The High Line, an aerial greenway, at 20th Street looking downtown; the vegetation was chosen to pay homage to the wild plants that had colonized the abandoned railway before it was repurposed

Right here in our own backyard we are seeing momentum grow as we build the Kingston Greenline. Re-purposing old industrial railroad lines that have been defunct for 40 years or more into bike and pedestrian friendly paths that will connect our neighborhoods, schools, parks, and waterfront will be a very good reason that new families and businesses will want to come here. What will follow will most certainly have an effect on real estate values. The National Association of Realtors recognizes the importance of “Walkable Communities” and how they play a vital role in economic development overall. Their most recent issue of On Common Ground is devoted to urban trails and the impacts they have. This magazine is all about “Smart Growth” and overall community planning. Of course realtors are on the front line and they recognize the impact these trails have.

The Kingston Greenline rail trail at Kingston Point / Hudson River

People travel from around the globe for the opportunity to stand over the Hudson River for world class views from the Walkway Over The Hudson, or to ride through stunning scenery along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. Soon, for the first time in over 100 years, private lands will be available to the public on the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail that will run through the Ashokan Reservoir lands with views that have inspired many artists over the centuries.  Wouldn’t you like to have all this right out your back door?

Make sure to check out the amazing Kingston Greenline Project Status Map.

Click here to read our recent interview with Andi Turco-Levin.