Beacon To Cold Spring Fjord Trail

Top state officials tour area

By Kevin E. Foley

The effort to create a hiking and biking trail running from Cold Spring to Beacon along the Hudson River moved into a more realistic realm last week as two state government commissioners met with local officials and the heads or environmental organizations to map out the project’s way forward.

The Hudson Hil’s cafe on Main Street was the venue for a luncheon gathering on Friday, Oct. 11, that included Commissioner Joan McDonald of the New York State Department of Transportation and Commissioner Rose Harvey of the state’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Philipstown Town Supervisor Richard Shea, Fishkill Supervisor Robert LaColla, Ned Sullivan, the president of Scenic Hudson, and Andy Chmar, executive director of the Hudson Highlands Land Trust (HHLT) were also among the attendees.

Route 9D at Breakneck Ridge (Photo by M. Turton)
Route 9D at Breakneck Ridge

The Hudson River Fjord Trail project, first proposed over five years ago by Shea among others, has gained momentum in the last two years with the formation of a coordinating coalition of local governments, nonprofit organizations and a citizens committee.

This last meeting brought everyone involved up to date and gave the commissioners, whose agencies will be crucial in decision-making, the opportunity to meet participants.

The commissioners also learned about specific issues such as the need for parking solutions on Route 9D, appropriate signage and safe pathways to hiking destinations on a tour of the proposed trail areas led by Scenic Hudson’s project manager Mark Wildonger.

“We are grateful for the interest and enthusiasm Commissioners Harvey and McDonald showed for this project during the tour Friday.  They clearly understand the limitations posed by the current situation and pledged to cooperate with the partners in creating a terrific trail that will attract and retain visitors, boosting local economies,” said Sullivan of Scenic Hudson.

Sullivan also referenced the connection between this proposed project with his organization’s opening of the West Point Foundry Preserve park in Cold Spring on Saturday, Oct. 19.

A view of Breakneck Ridge from the cliffs at Little Stony Point (Photo by M. Turton)
A view of Breakneck Ridge from the cliffs at Little Stony Point

“It was a great meeting to have everyone sit down and explain what’s going on,” Shea said. He said one important item discussed was the status of a pending consolidated funding application (CFA) wherein the coalition is applying for project money (as much as $1.2 million) from a number of state agencies at one time.

The CFA approach is a Cuomo administration initiative that seeks to reward public/private partnerships with a streamlined process for obtaining state funding. It is part of the administration’s emphasis on regional economic development.

Shea said the town would also have to put in some money (perhaps $15,000), but in-kind services from the town and also the Villages of Cold Spring and Nelsonville could help offset any need for actual dollar allocations. He also said that the HHLT had already been generous with startup funding for the project.

“The HHLT is proud to be a partner with this great group to bring this trail to fruition beginning with building a master plan,” said Chmar.

Shea said that the project’s steering committee was close to hiring a professional planner who would work over the course of a year or so developing plans for a trail that involves consideration of using a mix of public and private land. Shea said the planner’s work would mean, “we would get to a point where you have engineered plans for on-the-ground situations.”

Photos by M. Turton

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9 Responses to "Beacon To Cold Spring Fjord Trail"

  1. Patty Villanova   October 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    With all this money that’s being sought to improve traffic and make things better for hikers and other visitors, it boggles my mind that once again nothing is going to be done to improve Main Street in Downtown Cold Spring. There’s an urgent need for better street lighting which is an investment that could literally turn things around overnight. We are losing thousands of potential customers because it’s so dark after sunset, especially during the winter months during the holiday season. This isn’t news, merchants have been begging for better lights for many years, yet nothing gets done. I don’t know if I subscribe to the land-grab theories, but one thing’s for sure, the money for this project could be better spent fixing up our own infrastructure.

  2. Loron Lavoie   October 20, 2013 at 5:12 am

    Regardless of the cost, the Fjord Trail should go through. Everyday I drive through that area hoping I don’t see another pedestrian or bicyclist killed or injured. Who cares about the money, spend it!

  3. Patty Villanova   October 20, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    How many pedestrians and bicyclists have you seen killed or injured in that area of Route 9D?

  4. Christopher Daly   October 21, 2013 at 12:01 am

    It would appear that the Village of Cold Spring will be spending very little or no actual money on this project. All of the funds are coming from park-oriented governmental agencies and other private/public partnerships related to parks, whereas street lamps in the village would be solely a village issue. It is not even an apples to oranges comparison in asking why the fjord trail can get funding but street lights can not. They are completely different.

  5. Tony Bardes   October 21, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Never say “Regardless of the cost” when dealing with the government — they might surprise you on your next property tax bill. Where is this money coming from when you say “Who cares about the money, spend it!”? The trail is a great idea and I fully support it but let’s seek out responsible funding that will not further burden taxpayers.

  6. Todd Drake   October 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    “…let’s seek out responsible funding that will not further burden taxpayers” — which, as Chris points out, they are in the process of doing so, which I agree is great. Also, the probable land is along the existing MNR right-of-way or in existing parkland, so there’s probably no land-grabbin’ going on. So, I’m really not sure the World Bank/black helicopter crowd is in on this deal 😉

  7. James Hartford   October 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Conspiracy theories aside, the impetus for much of the effort is to make access to and from Cold Spring and the state parks north of us safer. That is not just safer for the tourists, but safer for all of us in the village.

    A quick count of crosses shows that the death toll north of Cold Spring is a lot, and certainly there have been more than the current crop of markers suggest. Safer access and a reduced speed limit are what is being explored.

    Sure, keep your eye on what the potential impact might be on taxes — but the much more pointed question is this: how many dead is enough to do something? Is driving to Beacon five minutes faster worth the human toll?

  8. Tony Bardes   October 21, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    What do auto accidents and white crosses have to do with the trail? It’s my understanding that the crosses are from auto accidents. How will the trail prevent auto accidents? I don’t know of any hikers who have been run over yet but I agree it’s just a matter of time. But please don’t try to say that if one does not agree with a potential tax increase they are somehow in favor of seeing dead people. To date the only helicopters I have seen were looking for a crazed murderer.

  9. Greg Miller   October 28, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Anyone who regularly drives between Beacon and Cold Spring on a pretty day knows it is a life-and-death obstacle course. Many of the hikers (who patronize all the businesses in town, bringing dollars to all coffers), seem to think they are in a nature park and walking casually on the highway is like walking a pedestrian lane at Disney World. It is only a matter of time. Cost is always an issue, but I am glad there is finally some traction on this project. I seriously doubt the danger of land-grabbing since all of that land is owned by either the MTA or the state or land preservation organizations. A little money and a little cooperation should yield a beautiful, safe walkway, further enhancing our beautiful home.