State funds part of Fjord Trail Project
By Kevin E. Foley
Proponents of the Fjord Trail, a planned hiking and biking pathway running along the Hudson River between Cold Spring and Beacon, received an early holiday present yesterday (Dec. 11) when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new round of economic development grants, including $935,000 for the project.
The funding is part of Cuomo’s Regional Business Council initiative wherein locally created projects intended to increase economic activity and increase job opportunities are provided with seed money from the state government. In this round of grants 852 projects received funding for a total of $709.3 million.
Advocates for the Fjord Trail include all the local governments that encompass the area the path would traverse including the towns of Philipstown, Fishkill, the city of Beacon and the Village of Cold Spring. Scenic Hudson, the regional nonprofit land preservation and environmental protection group is also a major driver of the project.
Still in the design stage, the Fjord Trail will ultimately cost several million dollars. This fresh round of funding will allow for progress on what many consider a critical feature of the project, the creation of a safer, more orderly way for visitors arriving by car and train to access hiking trails in Philipstown and Fishkill along the Route 9D corridor, including the popular destination Breakneck Ridge. Currently cars are often parked along the edges of 9D with pedestrians walking along the roadway perilously close to traffic.
According to the grant announcement, the money is intended to help create a new visitor features for the Hudson Highlands State Park area at Little Stony Point just north of Cold Spring, improved train access and better parking for both cars and bicycles in and around the whistle-stop Breakneck Ridge train platform as well as an ADA-accessible path to the Breakneck Ridge trail head. Additional traffic signage along 9D is also planned.
“Even though hikers are entering a state park it doesn’t look like one,” said Jeff Anzevino, director of land use advocacy for Scenic Hudson. “We want to see it [9D] look and feel and function like a parkway more than just a two-lane highway.” Anzevino said his organization is taking a lead role in organizing the project because it has the necessary professional planning staff local governments lack. He stressed that it is very much a cooperative and coordinated venture that also includes officials from Metro North, the New York State Departments of Parks and Recreation and Transportation each of which will oversee work on their agencies’ property.
Anzevino said Scenic Hudson sees the Fjord Trail project as part of the larger tourism and recreation theme for the economic benefit of the region and that it would be an important part of the effort to connect residents and visitors to the various parks within the Hudson Valley.
This year the Mid-Hudson region received the most money totaling $82.8 million for projects among the eight designated regions of the state. Locally the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival obtained a $71,000 grant for education and outreach projects intended to encourage access and participation in the arts. Manitoga Inc., the home of designer Russel Wright in Garrison also received a $16,700 grant for a large sculpture project.