5 Questions: Dan Biggs

Dan BiggsDan Biggs, a landscape architect with Weston & Sampson, is working with the Philipstown Trails Committee to create a path linking Cold Spring and Garrison. 

We have many trails. Why do we need another?
At the Philipstown Community Congress held in 2017, the topic of highest interest among residents was to improve walking and biking conditions. That led to the formation of the Trails Committee, which envisions achieving that goal primarily by establishing this pathway. It would be a functional facility for residents, connecting them to community resources. It might provide a safe walk to school, or a stop off for a bite to eat while on a bike ride home, simply popping by the library or creating a circuit of your own. 

Is it possible to create a trail for residents without attracting more visitors?
The goal is a corridor from Cold Spring to Garrison. But I think success — and the starting point — will be implementing shorter connecting points, or smaller segments that are usable from the get-go. A segment might be from the Garrison library to the town park, or from Boscobel to Cold Spring. That will be much less appealing to visitors who come here for hiking trails, scenic mountaintops or biking. 

How big a challenge will it be to include Route 9D?
It will be a challenge, but if it were an easy project, it would probably have been done by now. Traffic is heavy and may only get worse. But connecting the trail to community resources along 9D is important, as is working with the New York Department of Transportation to ensure safety. It’s had its own plans to improve the 9D corridor and would have to review anything proposed, but says there is no budget for improvements. Also, the right-of-way varies in width — another challenge in locating the route. I think a combination of paths connecting resources within the corridor makes sense; it can be a key local resource but less of a destination for visitors.

How will you handle crossing private property?
As the Trail Committee identifies which segments should be created first, it will reach out to each property owner. Whether it’s an institution or a private landowner, one-on-one meetings will be necessary to convey the intent of the project. If a right-of-way is not available, it will be an opportunity to work with landowners about accommodating a path adjacent to 9D, including possible land swaps, property purchases, etc. That takes time. Being honest and clear as to expectations and desires, on both sides, is a process we’ll have to work through.

Is there a typical timeline for this type of project?
A project of this size takes a lot of energy and effort. Many would like to see it happen soon. It’s going to come down to the community’s willingness to endure it, to help move it forward on all the properties it will have to go through. Whether it’s working with landowners to accommodate their needs, developing funding strategies or finding grants — unless there’s a dedicated funding source that can help it progress — it will take a number of years, for sure. But I think it’s feasible.

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