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.

The Compromise: Re-purposing our Rails while Preserving the Past

support the compromise

I remember driving by a new billboard in Kingston a few years ago that stated “Build the Trails but Save the Rails.” Why was this an issue? I felt uninformed at the time and curious. Why couldn’t the rails and trails coexist?

This brings me to our current topic, The Compromise, which is an agreement come to by a few different groups, to accommodate the building of new trails as well as preservation of railroad operations on the 36.8 mile Ulster and Delaware Corridor (1).

You may have seen signs up around town stating “Save the Rails” as well as “Support the Compromise.” You see, there are two camps on this issue; those who want to preserve the railroad tracks for use as a tourist train and those who want to re-purpose the tracks into trails. Of course there were also those wondering “why not both?” However, there remains a feeling of history vs. the future as the rails vs. trails debate continued.

Key Points of Compromise (wide)

The creation of new trails would get Ulster County residents out into nature to experience the beauty of where we live through the lens of walking or biking rather than driving. Trail supporters believe creating more trails will benefit the health and wellness of our residents.

The Compromise, embodied in Resolution 488 of the Ulster County Legislature, represents an agreement between the Catskill Mountain Railroad, Friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail, the Ulster County Executive and the Ulster County Legislature to help the railroad supporters and trail builders collaborate. It created space for the railroad to continue to maintain its tracks in portions of the county as well as for new trails to be built (1).

support the compromise

The need for a compromise became apparent when members of the community expressed concern over a proposal put forward in 2012 by the Ulster County Executive to convert the current rail line that runs from the City of Kingston to the western edge of the County, near Highmount, to a recreation trail for walking or biking, etc. The proposal was made when considering that the lease by the Catskill Mountain Railroad would end in May of 2016. This was of concern to rail supporters because it would mean the elimination of the railroad.

In order to come up with a resolution, a committee was created called the “Ulster and Delaware Corridor Advisory Committee.” Additionally, they hired a consulting firm to assess what would make the most sense when divvying up the stretch of track and trails and deciding where both could exist. The committee did a thorough reexamination of the original proposal to build the trail and conducted a study to decide what would be the optimum use of the corridor. After assessing what would be best, the committee came to a “rails with trails” agreement (1).

Support The Compromise

Starting at Cornell street in Kingston, a pedestrian trail will run to the Kingston Plaza. From there the train and trail will run side by side to Route 28A in Hurley. The portions of track between Route 28A in Hurley and Basin Road in West Hurley at the Ashokan Reservoir are still to be determined. Basin Road to Route 28A in Boiceville will be pedestrian trail only. Boiceville to Phoenicia will be rail and trail “where feasible’, and last Phoenicia to Highmount there will be trail development with a possible rail station development and rail connection to Delaware County at Highmount (2).

As you can see, both camps ended up with some of what they had hoped for, both rail and trail. The Compromise brought together two ends of a very passionate debate on an issue important to the people of Ulster County. The process continues, as Ulster County has recently selected two contractors to provide service on the two separate portions of track to remain. As it turns out, the Catskill Mountain Railroad will continue its operations in Kingston, while a new organization will operate west of the Ashokan Reservoir, providing rail-bike excursions.

And so we hope this brief explanation clarifies the history, and helps you understand why we #SupportTheCompromise

Sources:

  1. Resolution 488

Dana lives in the Rondout neighborhood with her adorable dog Cooper. Her family history in Kingston is what brought her to the area over ten years ago. Together, she and Cooper enjoy exploring all of the beauty and history that Kingston has to offer. The Kingston Land Trust asked Dana, who has only recently become aware of the compromise for rail and trail, to do some digging and attempt to explain from an outsider’s perspective what it’s all about.

Save

Save

Save

Save