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.

Kingston Greenline Update

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The Kingston Greenline is an ambitious program of the Kingston Land Trust that aims to complete a network of area rail trails and complete streets to improve the quality of life of area residents. There has been some significant progress over the past few years to reach that goal.

The rail ties have been removed along the Kingston Point section of the trail beginning in Midtown and ending at Kingston Point. When that work was complete, there began weekend volunteer cleanup events to keep the trail open until construction of the paved trail could begin. This year also saw the roll-out of the Urban Trail Rangers program where every other week volunteers would meet to inspect or clear a section of the trail when necessary.

If all goes according to plan construction of the Kingston Point section of the trail should begin in the spring with a city meeting to discuss the future of Broadway as a complete street between now and then which could see the kickoff of that project as well. Already sharrows have been designated on Cornell St. and Foxhaul Ave to the trail-head behind Rondout Savings with bike route and Kingston Greenline signage.

It’s only going to get better from here, so hopefully we’ll see you at one of our Weekend Wanders so you can see the progress firsthand.

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Scott McIntosh 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.

The Kingston O&W Rail Trail

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Did you know that there is a rail trail that starts in the City of Kingston and goes south to Stone Ridge and beyond?

You may have known about the Hurley Rail Trail that goes south but did you know that there is also a connection to Kingston? The trail-head in Kingston for the O&W Rail Trail is on Washington Avenue next to the Super 8 Motel parking lot behind the Daily Freeman building.

This rail trail has officially been there a long time as the D&H Canal Heritage Corridor Alliance signed license agreements as early 1993 that allowed for public use of the trail through the City of Kingston, Town of Ulster and Town of Hurley.

I started using the O&W trail between Kingston and Hurley in 1982 for bicycling when I got my first mountain bike. Over time the trail between Kingston and Hurley became progressively more overgrown and that hindered the use of the trail. Conditions got so bad by the early 2000s, that to preserve my own skin I started using a machete to keep the single track trail clear. Those trail conditions kept public utilization very low and the trail was not widely promoted. This is a shame as there is a lot of good wildlife habitat along the trail so there is a wide variety of wildlife to see.

Fast forward to April 22, 2012: It was on that date at the Super 8 Motel parking lot that I first met the Kingston Land Trust. I showed up there in response to a notice in the newspaper that there was going to be a trail cleanup on the O&W. From my perspective at the time I was delighted to have help clearing the trail!

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Cleaning up the trail

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A volunteer lending a hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things have changed a lot since that day in April 2012! Since then we have had volunteer help from myriad volunteer groups to clear the trail. The net result is that the brush and trees are now cut back and the grass mowed in the Kingston segment. O&W Trial signage is now being installed at access points along this section. With care, a casual rider can now ride just about any type of bicycle between Kingston and Hurley.

ow3w ow4wow2wow1wBut it gets even better! In the past year the O&W Municipal Coalition was formed to promote the trail from Ellenville to Kingston. Maps, signs, and brochures for the trail are in development now. Ulster County is also in the process of planning the development of the Kingston and Hurley section into a paved multi-use, ADA compliant, trail. It is anticipated that construction may start in 2017.

If you wish to use this section of the O&W Rail Trail there is trail head parking in Hurley on Route 209 by the Esopus Creek. In Kingston there is public parking on Hurley Avenue. Of course cycling or walking to the O&W trailheads is welcome and encouraged!

John Grossbohlin is a veteran long distance touring bicyclist who works on trail and Complete Streets projects with Kingston Land Trust, Friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail, and Bike Friendly Kingston. He also represents the City of Kingston on the O&W Rail Trail Coalition of Municipalities committee, and serves on the city’s Complete Streets Advisory Council.

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

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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).

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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.

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Rail Trail Hall of Fame, Here We Come!

Walkway Over the Hudson, Hudson Valley Trail Network | Photo by Kristina Quinones. Image courtesy of RTC.

Walkway Over the Hudson, Hudson Valley Trail Network | Photo by Kristina Quinones. Image courtesy of RTC.

You might have missed it, but in January, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) announced the 2016 nominees to their Rail Trail Hall of Fame. And guess what, the Hudson Valley Trail Network is one of the candidates! Voting’s open now, so vote early and vote often! Voting Booth.

Now, we know that our work in Kingston is just getting started, but we have proud partners to our south who are piecing together a fabulous start on this regional trail system. If you haven’t already, make a trip to ride the contiguous trail from Hopewell Junction (Dutchess County) to Tony Williams Park in the Town of Lloyd (Ulster County), a distance of nearly 18 miles! It starts out as the Dutchess Rail Trail, and after 13 miles, connects to the Walkway Over the Hudson. Moving west from the Walkway, you’re on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail for another 4 miles.

Plans are in the works to continue the Hudson Valley Rail Trail towards a connection with New Paltz. We can imagine the day (not too far off, we hope) when you could continue to New Paltz, then up the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail to Kingston, then via the Kingston Greenline either to the Hudson River at Kingston Point, to the Rondout Valley via the O&W Rail Trail or up to the Catskills on the Ashokan Rail Trail!

Your support will help us get there!

Weekend Wander – June Edition

Join us for the 3rd edition of this season’s Weekend Wander series! In this Wander, we’ll be exploring the Rondout section of the Kingston Greenline rail trail which includes the future Kingston Point segment.

WHO: Kingston Land Trust
WHAT: Weekend Wander – June Edition
WHEN: Saturday, June 18 at 9:30AM – 12:30PM
WHERE: Kingston Wine Co:

WHY: Hike around Kingston with local experts to talk about its exciting projects and hidden treasures right here in our backyard.

Keep checking our site for more details on future hikes. #KLTWANDER

Screen shot 2016-06-08 at 3.04.30 PMWeekend Wander: Rondout Area Route

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

Greenline progress… Opening soon?

Kingston Land Trust Rail Trail Construction

We’ve Been Working on the Greenline. Tangible Progress in 2015, Trail Opening in 2016? We’re Pulling for it.

The Kingston Point Rail Trail (KPRT) will be a recreational non-motorized transportation paved trail on a former rail bed within a property corridor owned by the City of Kingston that connects Midtown at East Chester Street with the waterfront. It will turn out to be a great way to commute for some. The conversion of former rail bed to trail features gentle grades from the Broadway commercial corridor through residential neighborhoods, to the Rondout Gardens multifamily residential area with easy connection to the Rondout waterfront district and Kingston Point.

The KPRT design has been unveiled after years of conceptual planning by Alta Planning+Design, design development by Saratoga Associates and engineering work to develop construction documents by KC Engineering. The Kingston engineering firm of Brinnier & Larios did all the survey work for us. Hone Strategic assisted in the public outreach and community engagement. You can download and view all the plans and documents online on the Kingston Greenline page of the City of Kingston Economic Development page.

Continue reading Greenline progress… Opening soon?

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:

Continue reading Trail Mix