Fund­ing for rail trail ex­pan­sion awaits vote

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

Ul­ster County law­mak­ers ex­pect to vote tonight on spend­ing $41,050 to cover en­gi­neer­ing costs for the ex­pan­sion of the Hud­son Val­ley Rail Trail from New Paltz Road in High­land to South Road in New Paltz.

The county’s deputy plan­ning di­rec­tor, Chris White, said the fund­ing is ex­pected to come from the state.

“Know­ing that we’re run­ning over project [bud­get] by $41,000, I went to As­sem­bly­man [Frank] Skar­ta­dos and I got a $50,000 mem­ber item, which we’re work­ing to cod­ify,” White said.

“I don’t have the grant agree­ment, but we’ll be bring­ing that to you as soon as we have it,” he told county leg­is­la­tors law­mak­ers at a re­cent com­mit­tee meet­ing.

The county is seek­ing to com­plete stretch of the trail that would be 5.5 miles long when con­nected to the sec­tion that be­gins at Com­mer­cial Av­enue in the High­land busi­ness dis­trict.

“There are four prop­erty own­ers from whom we’re try­ing to ac­quire prop­erty,” White said. “Those let­ters with the of­fers will be go­ing out . ... We got ap­proval from the New York state DOT (Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion) to go for­ward with those. The ap­praised val­ues are what we of­fer, but they may not be the final cost. We have some pos­si­bil­ity of ad­just­ing those num­bers if we need.”

The ini­tial ef­fort to es­tab­lish the Hud­son Val­ley Rail Trail was bud­geted at $175,000 and in­cluded $140,000 in fed­eral Trans­porta­tion Al­ter­na­tives Pro­gram fund­ing. County law­mak­ers ear­lier in­creased the bud­get by $216,040 to cover ac­qui­si­tion of rights-of-way.

“I’d ex­pect ... we’ll come back to you in the first quar­ter of 2017 to ac­quire those right-of-ways,” White told law­mak­ers.

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