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Open Space Institute’s “Growing Greenways” Initiative Honored with American Planning Association Award

Image Credit: Bill Amos Photography

NEW YORK, NY (December 14, 2023) – The Open Space Institute (OSI) was selected by the American Planning Association’s New York Metro Chapter (APA-NYM) to receive the Lawrence M. Orton Award for Leadership in City and Regional Planning. The award, which was presented in New York City on December 8, was given in recognition of OSI’s new initiative, Growing Greenways: West of Hudson Greenway Trails Vision Plan.

APA NYM Growing Greenways Award
From left: OSI's Annie Bergelin; Paul Lozito, President of APA-NYM; OSI's Peter Karis

The Orton Award was presented by Paul Lozito, AICP, president of APA-NYM, to OSI’s Peter Karis, Vice President for Parks and Stewardship, and Annie Bergelin, Design & Capital Projects Manager. The award presentation was part of APA-NYM’s annual conference, entitled “Advancing a Resilient and Equitable Future.”

“Receiving the Orton Award is a tremendous mark of distinction for the Growing Greenways plan,” said Karis. “With Growing Greenways, we’re thinking differently about how communities can connect to each other through nature and recreation. Being honored by the American Planning Association is a major vote of confidence in our efforts and our work. We’re grateful and incredibly proud to have been selected for this award.”

Growing Greenways is OSI’s initiative to connect and improve eight existing rail trail and greenway systems in Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties. The multi-year effort involves a mix of land acquisitions, improvements to existing trails, and new trail construction, which will link more than 250 miles of trails and dozens of rural and urban communities. OSI’s goals for Growing Greenways include improving public access to nature, expanding recreational opportunities, and boosting economic activity and tourism. Learn more about Growing Greenways with OSI’s interactive StoryMap.

Since announcing the Growing Greenways plan earlier in 2023, OSI has achieved several conservation and trail improvement victories, including the purchase of 2.4 miles of railbed running along the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest, which will be added to the O&W Rail Trail—the backbone of the Growing Greenways network, envisioned as a 57-mile trail connecting the cities of Kingston and Port Jervis. OSI has also completed major restorations to nearly 6 miles of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail and replaced the Plattekill Creek Bridge, which was funded through a $2.1 million Ulster County grant of American Rescue Plan Act funds. Farther up the Shawangunk Ridge, OSI restored Minnewaska State Park Preserve’s High Point Carriage Road, marking more than 15 miles of Minnewaska’s carriage roads restored by OSI and partners and opening sections of the park that had previously been largely inaccessible.

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