Let’s Get Ulster Active – Register NOW For June 12th Conference on Walking and Biking

atc2015-posterheaderRegister for free online at http://activetransportationulster.org and receive a free boxed lunch

Kingston, NY – On Friday, June 12th the Kingston Land Trust and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County will hold Ulster County’s first Active Transportation Conference, a day-long series of workshops and presentations that will bring together biking and walking experts, local officials and planners and enthusiastic advocates for complete streets, trails and smart growth. The conference is free and open to all, including a free box lunch, but pre-registration ends on Friday, June 5th. More information, including the conference schedule and a link to register for free is available at http://activetransportationulster.org.

The conference, which will be held at the Rondout Municipal Center on Lucas Avenue in Cottekill, includes a morning keynote, followed by three breakout periods between 11am and 4pm and concluding with an interactive action planning session where participants can help set the direction for future active transportation efforts in Ulster County. A free boxed lunch will be provided with pre-registration. The conference keynote is Mark Fenton, a national public health, planning, and transportation consultant, an adjunct associate professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and former host of the “America’s Walking” series on PBS television. He’s the author of numerous books including the bestselling “Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness” (Lyons Press, 2nd edition 2008).

During each breakout period, three concurrent sessions will include presentations on Complete Streets, Trails, and Land Use & Economic Development. The sessions will cover a wide variety of topics, such as innovative on-street bike infrastructure, funding your active transportation project, trail signage and wayfinding strategies, and the Trail Towns model for trail-oriented development, and feature a well-rounded group of presenters, including representatives from the City of Ithaca, NY, Scenic Hudson, the Progress Fund, Alta Planning + Design and more.

“Active transportation might seem like a new concept, but it’s something we’ve been working on for nearly a decade in Ulster County, starting with the County’s 2008 Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, which was completed by Alta Planning + Design,” explains Tim Weidemann, one of the conference organizers and the co-chair of the Kingston Land Trust’s Rail Trail Committee. “Rail trails, complete streets – even the trend toward smart-growth policies for land use; these are all part of the active transportation puzzle, and we think this conference will help everyone who’s working on these topics identify new ways to work together and to build on each other’s momentum,” Weidemann adds.

“It’s an exciting time to be working on these issues in Ulster County,” according to Kristen Wilson, a KLT board member and a Senior Resource Educator in the Healthy Communities Program at CCEUC who is also helping to organize the conference. “Anyone who’s interested in promoting public health, or who’s looking for ways to boost their local economy, or who just wants to make it safer and more fun to get around Ulster County by bike or by foot is sure to get a lot out of this event,” she continues.

In partnership with the Ulster County Board of REALTORS® (UCBR), the Kingston Land Trust recently received funding from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to promote its city-wide trail project, the Kingston Greenline, and to organize this event. “For real estate professionals, these are topics of critical importance, since all the research points to changes in homebuyer preferences over the past few years,” explains Andi Turco-Levin, who serves as the Chairperson of the Kingston Land Trust and President of UCBR. “Communities that are more walkable and bike-able, and that feature compact, multi-use development will be more competitive,” she adds. “Research by NAR has shown that being next to a trail translates into higher values and faster closings for sellers, and that’s driven by the fact that the next generation of homebuyers – which, by the way, is even bigger than the Baby Boomer generation – wants walkability, wants to be close to the action.” Levin encourages her fellow real estate professionals and UCBR members to attend the conference, where they can learn more about how active transportation and smart growth work to promote a stronger local real-estate market and improve community quality of life.

Registration for the conference is free at http://activetransportationulster.org and includes a free boxed lunch from Main Course Catering, thanks to the support of our sponsors. Following the conference, CCEUC and the KLT have teamed up to host a Trailside Soiree along the Marbletown O&W Rail Trail, within walking and biking distance of the Rondout Municipal Center. After the two-mile walk or bike, ticket-holders will be welcomed with cold beverages, light snacks and music. Tickets can be purchased as part of registration or separately at http://activetransportationulster.org.

The 2015 Ulster County Active Transportation Conference is organized by the Kingston Land Trust and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County. Sponsors include the Ulster County Board of REALTORS®, Hudson River Valley Greenway, NYSDOH Creating Healthy Places, WKZE 98.1 FM, the National Park Service, Barton & Loguidice and the Woodstock Land Conservancy.

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About the Kingston Land Trust and the Rail Trail Committee – The Kingston Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to the protection and preservation of open space, historic sites, wetlands, scenic areas, and forests in the City of Kingston and the surrounding region to include the Town of Ulster and the Town of Kingston. The Rail Trail Committee is dedicated to planning, development, utilization, and proper maintenance of rail trails and other non-motorized linkages in the City of Kingston. More information is available at www.KingstonLandTrust.org.

About the Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County and the Healthy Communities Program – Since 1913, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCEUC) has responded to the needs of local residents with unbiased, research-based information, tools and education that people have come to depend on and trust. Our programs are developed in direct response to community input, and are based on the most current information available from Cornell and other Land Grant universities from across the nation. The Healthy Communities Program at CCEUC aims to improve environments so that families, youth, and adults can lead healthier lives.  We work on Complete Streets in Kingston, Saugerties, Ellenville, and Wawarsing.

The Kingston Greenline’s Already Working

GreenlineOn Monday, May 11, RUPCO announced their latest project: a mixed-use commercial and residential development on the Mid City Lanes site dubbed “Greenline Center.” The project sounds exciting, but we think it’s worth taking a moment to explain what’s behind that name. In response to the media coverage surrounding RUPCO’s announcement, we’ve recently submitted the following letter for publication in the local media.

Two years ago, as the Kingston Land Trust ramped up its efforts to establish a system of multi-use trails connecting the County’s growing rail trail system to a Midtown Hub, our work hit a snag. What would we call the project? Through a grant from Parks and Trails NY, we brought local marketing and branding guru Raleigh Green to bear on the problem. His solution was the birth of the Kingston Greenline brand.

Through a strong public-private partnership between the City of Kingston and the Kingston Land Trust, the Kingston Greenline has evolved into a critical component of Kingston’s renaissance. The project represents the intersection of several important community-building efforts to foster a strong economy, create a safe environment and encourage healthy lifestyles.

As an interconnected system of walkways and bikeways stretching from the Hudson River to Uptown and linking Kingston to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, the O&W Rail Trail in Hurley, and the future rail trail to the Catskill Mountains, the Kingston Greenline will provide new ways for people to engage in healthy physical activity as part of their daily routine. It will also make moving about our city on bike or on foot safer, since it’s designed for users of all abilities, young and old, and separates them from motorized traffic. And in doing all of this, it will draw tourists, encourage local spending, increase quality of life, stabilize and improve property values and spur investment in new real estate development.

To any remaining skeptics, we urge you follow along as the story of the Kingston Greenline unfolds. RUPCO’s name choice for its latest project is just another sign that the concept has legs. The project’s location – spanning the block between Greenkill Avenue and Cedar Street, just South of Broadway – is near the geographical nexus of the Kingston Greenline, so it’s no surprise that the proposal draws on excitement about the trail system.

As evidenced in countless stories across the country, community investment in projects like the Kingston Greenline can spark exciting new life in neglected neighborhoods. RUPCO’s proposal represents an opportunity to leverage the Kingston Greenline to accomplish just such a transformation for the area. We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with RUPCO to build awareness of the Kingston Greenline and to apply the principles behind the Greenline – greater mobility, connectivity and sustainability – to strengthen their proposal.