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!

Digging Up Land Trusts’ Urban Roots

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Conservation land trusts work to protect land by holding property rights for the public good.

Relying on a combination of volunteers, staff and a board of directors, these nonprofit organizations may own land outright (which may be turned into public recreation areas or reserved for conservation purposes), or place conservation easements on pieces of property (which allows the land to remain privately-owned while still protected from development). In doing so, land trusts are advocates for responsible land use so that current and future generations can enjoy the many benefits of open space: recreation, agriculture, biodiversity and climate resiliency (just to name a few).

But, while all land trusts work towards these fundamental goals, each one represents a unique community and defines its own mission. Looking across the U.S. you can find land trusts of all shapes and sizes, but no two are identical.

People often imagine land conservation as occurring on tracts of remote wilderness, along the rolling hills of a bucolic farm, or framing a National Park; and, some land trusts do work on large scale preserves. But many land trusts form when development pressure reaches a breaking point and jeopardizes some of last remaining space for communities to gather.

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The Fab Four: Sections and Segments of the Kingston Greenline

Four sections of the Kingston Greenline

Four sections of the Kingston Greenline

As a city-wide network, the Kingston Greenline is made up of lots of different sections and segments, each of which is at different stages of development and, even when complete, will look, feel and work very differently. Here’s an overview of how we divide up the Kingston Greenline into four main sections:

Roundout Section

This section comprises the Kingston Point Rail Trail, which begins at Chester Street and continues to the Rondout Creek, as well as several complete-streets connections in Midtown and in the vicinity of East Strand. The Rondout Section includes a trolley trail segment from East Strand to Kingston Point, as well as future trails/promenades to and within the site known as the Hudson Landing. The communities surrounding the Rondout Section, while largely residential, also include the Lower Broadway Business District, as well as the sensitive natural environment around the confluence of Rondout Creek and the Hudson River.

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let’s ease(ment) into it

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It’s no secret that people are flocking to the Hudson Valley to sail on the Hudson River, explore the Shawangunks and Catskills, and enjoy the food that comes from our local farms. Many, too, are choosing to make this place home because it mixes small cities with rural communities and is still only a short drive or train ride from New York City.

But, all of this interest brings with it new challenges. Population increase naturally leads to more development, and many of the farms and open spaces that make this such a unique area are now at risk of being converted into subdivisions or strip malls. Subdividing large properties for housing and retail stores provide a quick return on developers’ investments, so they are often willing to pay more per acre than single families and farmers. In this way, the demand for living and playing in the Hudson Valley drives land values up, threatens farmland, and leads to sprawl.

In the United States, 13 million acres of farmland were converted to development between 1983 and 2010, averaging 1,320 acres per day. According to the latest USDA Census on Agriculture, Ulster County saw a 3% decrease in the number of its farms and lost nearly 4,000 acres of farmland between 2007 and 2012.

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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.

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Trail Mix

Complete Streets

For the past few months, the Kingston Land Trust has been working on developing a sustainable framework for management of the Kingston Greenline. As part of a recurring column in the Kingston Land Trust Newsletter, we’ll be introducing some concepts that provide a base for better understanding trail management.

This month’s concept… Trail Types.

For each portion of the Kingston Greenline a Trail Type has been identified based on trail surface, extent of built infrastructure, surrounding environment, and relationship with a rail corridor or active rail line. These distinctions help determine maintenance needs, and guide planning and design decisions. Identifying trail types for different portions of the Greenline also helps determine both short- and long-term maintenance costs.

There are several Trail Types that have been identified for the Greenline, including:

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