NEW PALTZ, NY – City officials have approved a state environmental review form that will allow Ulster County to begin work on a 5.44-mile stretch of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail using 1, $2 million in US bailout funding.
The statement that there will be no negative environmental impacts was adopted late last month at a meeting of the city council.
“They did the same thing last year using money that was left over from the Empire State Rail Trail,” supervisor Neil Bettez said. “Now the last section is from Sojourner Truth Park to Gardiner. This is where the rail trail ends right now, at the Gardiner Library, so now the entire Wallkill Valley rail trail from Gardiner to Kingston will have been redone.
Work will include repairing areas of the walking surface with crushed stone, clearing drainage areas and improving level crossing safety.
“In areas where there are washouts, they’ll fix it,” Bettez said. “They will make sure that when you get to the crossings there is clearance so you can see the cars coming. It will be about cutting down trees so that when you approach the road you can see cars.
As owner of 4.65 miles of the trail between Gardiner and Rosendale, the town is responsible for approval of works with a similar resolution required of the village as owner of a 1.81 mile section in the middle of the city-owned area.
Conditions along the trail vary from well-maintained gravel beds to something resembling a grass trail. Bettez said an increase in usage has underscored the need to address different skill levels.
“These were bought by the cities…about 30 years ago,” Bettez said. “They were repaired and maintained by volunteers for the most part. I think it makes the trails more accessible to people of all abilities.
City records show that for an eight-month period between October and June, there were 48,146 users on the trail, with June being the busiest at an average of 429 people per day.
“We’re counting the trails on the section that was redone last year and the counts keep going up,” he said.