New Policy Set For County-Owned Ulster & Delaware Corridor
Kingston, NY – County Executive Mike Hein is pleased to support the amended County policy of the Ulster County Legislature that virtually adopts the Executive’s “Compromise Plan of 2014” in its entirety with slight modifications and commends the Ulster & Delaware Corridor Committee for their strong bipartisan efforts.
This plan allows for the future of tourism rail operations in the City of Kingston with a minor extension while also supporting recreational trail development from Kingston to the Ashokan Reservoir and along the Ulster & Delaware (“U&D”) Corridor in the Catskills. The Legislative Resolution virtually adopts the entire compromise segmented “rail with trail” framework proposed by County Executive Hein in December 2014 that both preserved tourism rail operations in Kingston and opened major segments of the County-owned U&D Corridor, including the Ashokan Reservoir segment, for hiking, bicycling, skiing, running, fishing and other recreational uses free of charge and without permit for the first time in over 100 years.
“I appreciate the thoughtful deliberations and hard work of the U&D Corridor Advisory Committee (“Committee”) over the past six months. They have shown courage and responsibility in creating a definitive policy. The Committee’s recommendations and revised U&D policy have adopted and built upon the compromise framework that I proposed late last year, and this revised policy now allows Ulster County residents and visitors alike to have the best of both worlds. This includes the creation of a new linear park trail connecting mid-town Kingston to the Kingston Plaza while also preserving the benefits of tourism railroad to our local businesses. The linear park will provide significant public health and quality of life benefits while allowing people without cars to more easily access high quality low cost food at an area supermarket. Equally as important, this agreement also opens up the entire north shore of the Ashokan Reservoir for public use without permit or fee for the first time in over 100 years, and keeps alive the dream of a world-class trail connecting the Walkway Over the Hudson, New Paltz, Rosendale, Kingston and the Ashokan Reservoir,” noted Executive Hein. “My Administration has understood from the beginning the value of a segmented plan and the issues of building rail and trail along the entire single-tracked corridor. It has been my great hope from the beginning to make this Corridor available to both rail and trail, and the revised Legislative policy shares and supports this vision.”
The consultant detailed that rail and trail could not be located on the existing Corridor for the entire distance between Kingston and the Ashokan Reservoir and highlighted the serious physical, financial and legal constraints to building trail with rail along the entire Corridor. The Committee’s work also supported the County Executive’s vision for a spectacular recreational trail along the Ashokan Reservoir, while confirming that NYC DEP would not allow both rail and trail development along its Watershed lands. Finally, the Committee’s consultant further validated the County’s findings and reports on the serious deterioration of the railroad track and embankment in long segments between Kingston and the Ashokan Reservoir, along the Reservoir lands, and particularly west of Phoenicia, where the consultant highlighted that much of the Corridor was overgrown with mature trees and/or significantly damaged from lack of maintenance.
Jeanette Provenzano, Ulster County Legislator
“Today’s resolution that amends the County policy is a win-win for the City of Kingston and the people of Ulster County,” stated Ulster County Legislator Jeanette Provenzano. “While I am very pleased that the Legislature has taken this action and I am proud to have this as the final major vote of my long career, the fact remains that this is essentially the same framework, with a few enhancements added by the Legislature, offered by the County Executive more than a year ago, which the Catskill Mountain Railroad refused to consider.”
Kevin Smith, Co-Chair of the Friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail
“The rail and trail compromise is a win for everyone, and the Friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail appreciate the vision and leadership of County Executive Hein by setting forth his “Compromise Plan” of 2014 and commend the Ulster County Legislature on its historic vote which embraces large portions of this plan and moves a segmented rail and trail policy forward,” said Kevin Smith, Co-Chair of the Friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail. “This amended policy protects trail connectivity from Kingston to the Ashokan Reservoir while also allowing tourist railroad operations to continue in Kingston. County Executive Hein’s vision of a world-class rail trail along the Ashokan Reservoir and west of Phoenicia, as well as the creation of a linear park in the City of Kingston, will finally open and restore key segments of this corridor to public use for the first time in many generations.”
The Resolution identifies future uses for segments of the 38.6-mile U&D Corridor, which are:
• Cornell Street in Kingston to Kingston Plaza- Trail Development
• Kingston Plaza to Route 28A in Hurley- Rail with Trail Development
• Route 28A in Hurley to Basin Road in West Hurley at Ashokan Reservoir- To Be Determined
• Basin Road to Route 28A in Boiceville- Trail Development (NYC DEP Lands)
• Boiceville to Phoenicia- Rail Development with Possible Trail Where Feasible
• Phoenicia to Highmount- Trail Development with Possible Rail Station Development and Rail Connection to Delaware County at Highmount