Q: How is the current rail bed being used now?
A: The rail bed from the Trolley Museum to Midtown has been dormant for nearly 35 years. There is currently no legal public use or development on the property. The inactive section of the Trolley Museum of New York (TMNY) leased, City of Kingston owned right-of-way starts at the main entrance to the TMNY Exhibition Space/Gift Shop.
Q: What would the planned new uses be?
A: The property will be managed as a multi-use publicly accessible trail by the Kingston Land Trust with volunteer support from the Friends of Kingston Rail Trails operating under the auspices of the Kingston Land Trust. The Kingston Land Trust is working with the City of Kingston and the Trolley Museum of New York to establish the best way to reframe the lease arrangement that currently exists in order to protect the existing arrangement for that stretch of rail between the Rondout Waterfront and Kingston Point for TMNY’s use and for the KLT to take over responsibilities for operation and maintenance of the section of rail corridor between the Trolley Museum and Midtown.
Q: Will the public have a chance to weigh in on the project?
A: The public, City of Kingston administration officials and the Kingston Common Council along with appropriate Commissions and concerned citizens will be involved in the various discussions, decisions, proposed charettes and forums concerning the planning, design, and operation of the trail going forward.
Q: With the community traveling an urban trail such as this, who would carry the liability?
A: According to “Getting Involved ~ A Community Trail Handbook for Landowners” jointly published by Parks and Trails New York and the Greenway Conservancy for the Hudson River Valley, New York’s Recreational Use Statute (NYS General Obligations Law subsection 9?103) limits the liability of landowners who voluntarily allow access to their land for certain recreational activities. “These recreational activities include the most common trail activities such as hiking, bicycle riding, horseback riding, and cross?country skiing. The Recreational Use Statute offers an important measure of landowner liability protection. The law applies to landowners whether or not they grant permission for use of their property, as long as the following two conditions exist: they do not charge a fee and do not maliciously fail to guard against hazards.” The Kingston Land Trust will maintain a general liability and property insurance policy of a required and necessary amount and name the City of Kingston additionally insured. A Certificate of Insurance naming the City of Kingston will be issued annually or upon request.
Q: How does the Kingston Land Trust foresee handling privacy and trespassing issues?
A: Trail use is a very directed, “through” activity, which means trail users tend to stay on a trail and not loiter or enter adjacent property. In addition, trail users are usually respectful of private property and landowner privacy. Education of trail users can prevent many trail problems. The KLT and FKRT will help reinforce awareness of landowner concerns and trail use ethics. Trail users will be directed, through signs and printed material, to respect private property by entering at designated access points, staying on designated trails, and carrying out their litter. To reduce conflict with Rail Trail neighbors, the organization would: Provide contact information for reporting problems, Maintain facilities regularly, Distribute or publish a trail maintenance schedule, Respond to illegal or disturbing activity quickly, Meet periodically with neighbors and provide other feedback means, Respond promptly and effectively to complaints, concerns, and suggestions.
Q: How does the Kingston Land Trust plan to handle safety concerns?
A: Trail safety consists of a range of issues including road crossings, on?road segments, and the continuing use of the trolley line (which will be a consideration for the natural extension of the trail out to Kingston Point alongside the existing Trolley tracks that currently support active Trolley use). Trail development may actually decrease the risk of crime in comparison to an abandoned and undeveloped rail corridor. Several studies show that people prefer living along a rail trail rather than an abandoned corridor. Typically, lawful trail users serve as eyes and ears for the community. As trail advocates the committee will be sure to address security concerns beginning in the planning stages and continuing through the development of the management plan. The trail design can also enhance safety such as with landscaping and lighting.
Studies documenting actual experiences from around the nation and New York State demonstrate that well? planned and designed trails can be good neighbors and that living with trails can be highly rewarding. In the 1998 survey of residents along New York’s Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, the majority of respondents reported being satisfied with the trail as a neighbor. Trails have excellent safety records compared to other public and private places. Although landowners are often apprehensive about trails bringing an increase in crime, four separate studies conducted between 1979 and 1997 on various trails across the country concluded that landowners adjacent to trails experience negligible crime as a result of trails.12 A 1998 study of 372 rail?trails nationwide – together totaling more than 7,000 miles of trail and more than 45 million estimated annual users – found that trails are among the safest places in communities. As for the safety of trail users, a study of the 1800?mile Appalachian Trail found that a person was more likely to be struck by lightning than be a crime victim on the trail. Safety plans, including emergency response strategies, are an intrinsic part of any trail management plan and should be in place before opening the trail to the public. The Friends of Kingston Rail Trails will maintain open lines of communication with local police and the City’s Public Works and Recreational Departments.
Q: Does the Kingston Land Trust have a strategy for managing a multiple use trail?
A: A significant challenge for shared-use trails is the need to manage multiple and potentially conflicting trail user groups. In addition to having trail users ‘share the trail’ with each other, it is equally important for them to respect adjacent property owners and managers. Many sections of the rail trail corridor are located on or near significant resource areas, private property and businesses. Guidelines for making trails and adjacent properties good neighbors will be continually reviewed and updated.
Q: How would the trail be maintained?
A: The Friends of Kingston Rail Trails, under the auspices of the Kingston Land Trust, will maintain the trail and be responsible for its upkeep. This includes mowing, removal of litter, and repairs needed for the trail due to normal use or vandalism. Typically a cost of approximately $2,500 a mile for yearly maintenance is estimated for rail trails, mainly grass cutting and minor repairs. Historically, rail trail projects have tremendous community support with volunteers continually showing support by adopting the trail and helping to maintain it. This means that, for the 1.5 mile KPRT, the cost is under $5,000 annually for maintenance. Currently, the Kingston Land Trust has hosted three trail clean-ups with over 50 citizens who volunteered to help. This is even before a trail actually exists!
Q: Where would parking be made available?
A: Plans will include parking areas to support the trail at locations such as the Trolley Museum and along the waterfront in the Rondout, in the vicinity of Jansen Street at the Midtown trail head and in a small park off the Delaware Avenue – Livingston Street intersection. In addition, there is on-street parking in numerous locations near each of the street crossings as the trail wends its way through the neighborhood between Midtown and the Waterfront. It is expected that many of the users will live or work nearby the trail and not need to drive and park such as workers at Kingston Hospital, runners and walkers from the nearby YMCA, school children from Kingston High School or Kennedy School, or visitors staying at local B&Bs or coming in on other rail trails such as the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail or the O&W rail trail (once connections with these existing trails are made from the Midtown area).
Q: Are there public restrooms along the trail?
A: Some businesses will welcome use of their restroom facilities. Public restrooms are available at the Gallo Park at East Strand near to the Trolley Museum end of the KPRT. Look for posted signs.
Q: Would pets be allowed on the trail?
A: Dogs would be allowed on the trail but must be leashed. Leashes prevent the dogs from disturbing wildlife, disturbing abutters who have chosen to not have fencing installed, and alarming other trail users who may be uncomfortable around dogs. We would also ask that you clean up after your pet so using the trail will be a pleasant experience for everyone.
Q: What is the economic impact of the trail?
A: Retail businesses near the rail trail should benefit because of increased traffic. Note that according to a 2000 National Association of Home Builders Survey of what active adults and older seniors want in their communities, walking and jogging trails ranked #1.
Q: Do rail trails attract crime?
A: No, the experience from other trails is that crime is less frequent on a rail trail than it was on the abandoned railway before the trail was built. The self?policing nature of a rail trail helps suppress crime.