State's walkway acquisition will improve visitor access and services

NEW YORK, NY —March 13, 2015 — Seven months after the Open Space Institute was able to secure the purchase of property adjacent to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Poughkeepsie, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has taken ownership of the parcel. The half-acre addition to the park will provide the agency with the growing room and facilities it needs to manage this unique and popular regional tourism destination.

Purchased by the state using $550,000 from the Environmental Protection Fund, the new land will also help integrate Walkway—which at 1.28 miles is also the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world—into the Poughkeepsie community. Local media coverage of the transfer included a March 6 article in the Poughkeepsie Journal, “State takes ownership of city lot near Walkway.”

The Open Space Institute (OSI) purchased the property from a private owner last summer with the goal of conveying it to State Parks. The strategically located parcel had been a high priority for inclusion in the park since it opened in 2009, also boosts OSI’s commitment to linking the network of rail trails and riverfront parks throughout the Hudson Valley.

“Spurring the expansion of Walkway into the heart of Poughkeepsie perfectly captures the role that OSI plays for New York’s state parks,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s President and CEO. “This transfer, which will improve park access, enhance the visitor experience and better integrate the Walkway into the Poughkeepsie community, represents the best type of park project made possible by the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.”

“New York State is committed to improving Walkway Over the Hudson and making it an anchor of the City of Poughkeepsie’s urban vitality,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “The parcel gives State Parks more room and flexibility to improve visitor services and public access to the eastern side of the park. We are grateful to the Open Space Institute for its assistance in securing this important connection to the community.”

The parcel at the intersection of Washington Street and Parker Avenue includes a vacant 7,500-square-foot warehouse and manufacturing building as well as an adjacent empty lot. State Parks will conduct a feasibility study to determine potential uses for the site, including park offices, public restrooms, streetscape improvements and equipment storage. The park office is now housed in a construction trailer at the Highland entrance to the Walkway and has portable restrooms at the Poughkeepsie entrance.

In the future, the land and facilities will augment a 180-mile-long interconnected network of five rail trails envisioned by OSI and its partners running from southern Dutchess County, through Ulster, Sullivan and Orange counties to the Catskills.

The Walkway Over the Hudson provides access to the Hudson River's breathtaking landscape for pedestrians, hikers, joggers, bicyclists and people with disabilities. The Walkway has hosted nearly 3 million visits since it opened in October 2009. An April 2014 visitor study conducted by OSI’s Alliance for New York State Parks program and funded through a grant from the Dyson Foundation captured the impact of and support for this unique public space within the regional community.

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