Ashokan trail plan to be un­veiled

Info meet­ing planned for 7 tonight at On­te­ora High School in Boiceville

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­line.com pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter

Ul­ster County of­fi­cials will un­veil ini­tial plans for a recre­ational trail within the railroad cor­ri­dor that runs ad­ja­cent to the Ashokan Reser­voir dur­ing an in­for­ma­tional meet­ing this evening.

The meet­ing is sched­uled for 7 p.m. in the au­di­to­rium at On­te­ora High School, 4166 Route 28, Boiceville.

Chris White, deputy com­mis­sioner of the Ul­ster County Plan­ning Depart­ment, said the county will pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive over­view of the planned trail as well spe­cific ideas for the cor­ri­dor.

Ad­di­tion­ally, he said, the New York City Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, which owns the sur­round­ing land and is part­ner­ing with the county to cre­ate the trail, will un­veil con­cep­tual de­signs for three trail heads it has com­mit­ted to con­struct­ing.

The 11.5-mile trail is to run along the north­ern edge of the

Ashokan Reser­voir be­tween West Hur­ley and Boiceville.

“We’ll be talk­ing about all the work the con­sul­tant has been do­ing, the en­vi­ron­men­tal re­views done, project back­ground, some of the things we found dur­ing the fea­si­bil­ity study, drainage, and the width of the trail,” White said. “It’s mostly to give peo­ple an idea of what we found over the past years dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that we did dur­ing the fea­si­bil­ity study, and the pre­lim­i­nary de­sign. What we’ll be do­ing is lit­er­ally walk­ing peo­ple through the cor­ri­dor through a series of pho­tos.”

White said the county also hopes to hear from peo­ple who plan to use the trail.

Ten­ta­tive plans call for a recre­ational trail that will fol­low the ex­ist­ing railroad cor­ri­dor and use ex­ist­ing drainage struc­tures. White said that in most places, the trail will be 12 feet wide, although there are some ar­eas where en­croach­ing wet­lands will force the trail to nar­row.

White said the trail sur­face will be a com­pacted crushed stone that will al­low for some nat­u­ral drainage while pro­vid­ing a sur­face that is amenable to use by hik­ers, bik­ers, wheel­chairs, run­ners and cross­coun­try skiers, among oth­ers. Mo­tor­ized re­cre­ation will not be al­lowed.

In May, Ul­ster County law­mak­ers au­tho­rized a $395,000 con­tract for the de­sign of the trail, ad­vanc­ing the county’s plan for a seg­mented tourist train and recre­ational trail along the for­mer Ul­ster & Delaware Railroad cor­ri­dor.

The fund­ing for the study came from a $2.5 mil­lion grant awarded to the county by New York City.

The de­vel­op­ment of a trail along the Ul­ster & Delaware cor­ri­dor has been among the most con­tro­ver­sial pro­pos­als by Ul­ster County Ex­ec­u­tive Michael Hein. First un­veiled in 2012, the pro­posal drew the im­me­di­ate ire of the Catskill Moun­tain Railroad, which un­til May of this year held a lease for the cor­ri­dor, and from rail sup­port­ers who ob­jected to con­vert­ing the most of the 38.6-mile rail line into a recre­ational trail, with con­tin­ued rail op­er­a­tions al­lowed only at the western end of the line.

Ul­ti­mately, the county Leg­is­la­ture ap­proved a com­pro­mise plan that al­lows for con­tin­ued rail op­er­a­tions on the east­ern por­tion of tracks, as well.

TANIA BARRICKLO — DAILY FREE­MAN

This sec­tion of track is part of the for­mer Ul­ster & Delaware Railroad cor­ri­dor in Ul­ster County.

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