Ulster County Executive Mike Hein Signs Historic Agreement To Receive $2.5 Million From The DEP For The Development Of A Public Rail Trail Along The Ashokan Reservoir

Posted June 12, 2015

County Executive Also Continues To Advocate For A Compromise Plan That Would Save Theme Based Train Operations In Kingston

Kingston, N.Y. – Ulster County Executive Mike Hein has signed a landmark agreement between Ulster County and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to facilitate and help fund the transformation of the County-owned right of way along the north shore of the Ashokan Reservoir into a world-class public recreational trail.  The agreement opens 11.5 miles of the currently unused corridor along the northern shore of the Ashokan Reservoir without permit or fee for the first time in over 100 years and represents an unprecedented expansion of access to the breath-taking natural beauty of the Ashokan Reservoir for Ulster County residents and visitors alike.  

“This truly historic day is the direct result of thoughtful, visionary and cooperative efforts by so many partners.  I want to extend a special thank you to the Legislature for their critical support, debate and analysis as well as their overwhelming bipartisan vote to approve this agreement as we take a major step toward an interconnected rail trail system linking the awe-inspiring Ashokan Reservoir and the immensely popular Walkway Over the Hudson,” said County Executive Mike Hein.  “Our residents will benefit from increased outdoor recreational opportunities while our local businesses will receive a boost from the influx of visitors coming to see and experience all that Ulster County has to offer.  In fact, as we work to attract the 22 million people who live in the metro New York area to visit, the DEP has also agreed to market the rail trail and Ulster County to its water customers.” 

“Tourism is an economic engine for Ulster County and it is important that we draw a large cross section of visitors who have varying interests, including hikers and bikers as well as train enthusiasts, which is why I continue to be committed to saving tourist train operations in Kingston while also developing rail trail west of Kingston and along the Ashokan Reservoir,” said County Executive Mike Hein.  “My administration has designed a thoughtful compromise to the decades old debate concerning rail versus trail, and it is my great hope that this plan will preserve theme-based train rides in Kingston, where they have been successful, as well as provide access to Ashokan Reservoir lands which have not been open to our residents in over 100 years.  Therefore, I ask that the Ulster County Legislature to revisit its policy that provides for tourism train operation only west of the Ashokan Reservoir and precludes the popular Kingston-area themed train rides because Ulster County residents deserve to enjoy the best of both worlds with this segmented plan.”

Sylvia Rozzelle, Town of Olive Supervisor 

“I am thrilled that this agreement is signed and the project is moving forward,” said Sylvia Rozzelle, Town of Olive Supervisor.  “The trail along the Ashokan Reservoir will boost business in the Town of Olive and nearby towns as well as offer our residents wonderful recreational benefits.  I believe this trail will be something wonderful that our community will be proud of.” 

Nels Leader, Vice President of Bread Alone 

“The trail will provide significant economic and quality of life benefits to our area,” said Nels Leader, Vice President of Bread Alone.  “We strongly support this project, which represents lasting and responsible economic development and will create a unique, one-of-a-kind venue for organized outdoor events as well as easy access to beautiful open spaces.” 

The County Executive signed the agreement with the NYC DEP after it was approved by the Ulster County Legislature on May 19, 2015 by Resolution No. 187.  The major components of the agreement between Ulster County and the NYC DEP include: 

  • NYC DEP will contribute $2.5 million towards the County’s planning, design and construction of the Ulster County Rail Trail Project along NYC DEP lands adjacent to the Ashokan Reservoir and support additional grant funding as the project advances.
  • Both parties support the conversion of the Ulster & Delaware corridor along NYC DEP lands into public recreational trail only, extending from Basin Road in West Hurley to Boiceville in recognition of the significant economic, environmental, public health, and quality of life benefits to the residents and businesses of Ulster County and New York City.
  • In addition to the $2.5 million funding commitment, which can only be used to design and build the trail, NYC DEP will also design, construct, maintain and operate multiple public access points, or trailheads, along the trail with parking and trail support facilities.
  • UlsterCounty will design, construct and maintain the rail trail. 
  • There will be a joint marketing effort to promote the trail to UlsterCounty residents as well as residents and visitors to the New York City metropolitan area.

Pictured below from Left to Right - Mary McNamara, Dennis Douglas, Dan Leader, Andi Turco-Levin, John Grossbohlin, County Executive Mike Hein, William Sheldon, Patty Goodwin, Bryan Roberts, Marita Lopez-Mena, Kathy Nolan