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Ulster County and OSI announce rail trail study

Kingston, NY – April 17, 2014 – Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and the Open Space Institute today announced the launch of a privately-funded trail planning study for the Ashokan Reservoir section of the Ulster County Rail Trail Project. The trail planning study has been commissioned by OSI and will be conducted by the engineering firm Barton & Loguidice.

The study will focus on the 11.5-mile segment of the County-owned Ulster & Delaware Railroad (U&D) corridor running along the northern shore of the Ashokan Reservoir from Basin Road in West Hurley to the western end of the Reservoir near Boiceville. The OSI partnership builds upon the December 2013 announcement that Ulster County and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) had developed a landmark agreement in principle to help fund and facilitate the conversion of the U&D corridor running through NYC DEP lands into a non-motorized rail trail, opening these lands to public access without permit for the first time in over 100 years. 

The OSI trail planning study will be funded entirely through private contributions raised from the Dyson Foundation and the Woodstock Land Conservancy, as well as individual donors, including Ulster County residents Rob and Eileen Rominger, Floyd Lattin, Ward Mintz and Bill Collins. The study will provide necessary surveys, engineering inspections and analysis of design alternatives for one of the longest and most scenic segments of the Ulster County Rail Trail Project running along the entire length of Ashokan Reservoir. The study will examine potential locations for multiple public access areas (trailheads) and will include a robust public input process for area residents, businesses and communities along the trail. 

“Ulster County is grateful for the commitment of the Open Space Institute and the generosity of the Dyson Foundation, the Woodstock Land Conservancy (WLC) and the local residents who have contributed towards this transformational project,” noted County Executive Hein. “OSI has provided invaluable leadership in expanding the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail and restoring the Rosendale Trestle. We are thrilled to launch this new initiative with OSI to advance the County’s vision of a rail trail network running from the Walkway Over the Hudson to the Ashokan Reservoir and Catskill Park communities.” 

“As we celebrate our recent completion of the Rosendale Trestle and extension of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail to the city of Kingston border, OSI is delighted to put its shoulder behind this tremendously exciting project and partner with the County in developing a world-class rail trail network in Ulster County,” said Erik Kulleseid, senior vice president of OSI. “County Executive Mike Hein has shown leadership and vision in advancing this rail trail project, and OSI looks forward to partnering with the County to create an extraordinary rail trail park that connects the city of Kingston to the Ashokan Reservoir and beyond and eventually links to the Walkway Over the Hudson.” 

“WLC is delighted to join with OSI and County Executive Hein and help privately finance this important planning study. The 11.5-mile linear park will create new connections between Route 28 businesses and local communities and open access for the first time in many generations to the beautiful forests and shorelines along the northern shore of the Ashokan Reservoir,” said Patty Goodwin, president of the WLC Board of Directors. 

The strategic partnership with OSI and start of the trail planning study builds upon the announcement in late 2013 that the County and the NYC DEP had consented to an agreement in principle supporting the development of the Ulster County Rail Trail Project along the northern shores of the Ashokan Reservoir. That agreement establishes a cooperative framework to facilitate and help fund the conversion of the U&D right-of-way into a multi-use recreational trail open for public use year round without permit. The agreement with NYC DEP covers the approximately 11.5-mile section of U&D right-of-way that crosses NYC DEP lands from Basin Road in West Hurley westward to Boiceville in the Town of Olive. The agreement provides more than $2.5 million in direct funding and other assistance from NYC DEP in support of trail development.

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