Philipstown Gets $400,000 for Fjord Trail

Beacon receives $50,000 for downtown/waterfront project

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

The Town of Philipstown got special holiday greetings from New York State last week, winning $400,000 for work on the proposed Hudson Fjord Trail. The City of Beacon, meanwhile, received $50,000 for downtown-transportation-waterfront initiatives.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the 2015 Economic Development grants, coordinated through regional economic development councils, on Dec. 10 and 11. The $2.25 billion in grants, for which municipalities, nonprofit groups, and businesses compete, includes $90.4 million for 109 projects in the mid-Hudson region, including those in Putnam and Dutchess counties.

The $400,000 for Philipstown will fund efforts in conjunction with Scenic Hudson for the environmental review process and design of the 1.4-mile Fjord Trail section from Little Stony Point, just north of the village of Cold Spring, to Breakneck Ridge, near the southern end of Dutchess County.

Beacon’s $50,000 will go toward development of a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Plan for the Metro-North Railroad station and Hudson River waterfront and downtown area, with an economic development strategy for the business district and recommended zoning and comprehensive-plan changes reflecting the TOD Plan.

“It’s great news,” said Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea of the grant. “It will go a long way toward getting the trail [underway]. And it was a great effort by the team” spearheading the trail, a project of several local government jurisdictions, environmental groups and volunteers in two counties.

Shea told The Paper that the nitty-gritty design work on the designated trail section, the southernmost stretch, would begin as soon as the funds come through. That can take a while, he noted. Money allocated in a 2013 state grant for work at the Washburn Trail parking lot across Route 9D from Little Stony Point has yet to arrive, he said. For a long time “the federal government and state government never came to terms with spending the money.” However, any differences there seems to be resolved now “and we’re guaranteed that the money will be” available soon, Shea said.

Scenic Hudson Senior Planner Amy Kacala, the project manager for the trail work, emphasized that the money would fund not only the design work but an in-depth environmental review process of the entire planned trail, from Cold Spring to Beacon, with several aspects especially pertinent to the 1.4 mile section. “As part of that, we are going to take a closer look at the shoreline trail,” the piece of trail intended to run around Little Stony Point north to the Breakneck Trail head, and how that would be specifically configured, she said. “We don’t want to tread heavily” on the landscape and river. Likewise, the environmental review process will deal with parking, trash removal, emergency services access, impacts on the immediate community and other issues.

Kacala said a committee of stakeholders would be formed to address such questions, with representation from the state Departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation, Metro-North and other property owners, environmental and citizen groups, first-responders and local governments. She said the timeline for this stage of the overall trail effort is two years. Basic details on the proposed trail can be found on the revamped trail website at hudsonfjordtrail.org.


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