Section will connect Dockside Park and Breakneck
On Sunday (Dec. 17), representatives from the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail revealed the next iteration of design renderings at an open house held at the Hubbard Lodge on the edge of Fahnestock State Park.
While the dreary deluge from a rainstorm kept nearly everyone away, the renderings offer a glimpse of the plans for the southernmost section of the trail, which would begin at the northern border of Dockside in Cold Spring and end at Breakneck Ridge.
The plan has drawn fierce resistance in Philipstown from some residents, including members of a nonprofit called Protect the Highlands who argue that the trail should begin at Breakneck to avoid adding to weekend congestion in the village.
Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail counters that the 7.5-mile linear park connecting Beacon and Cold Spring is being designed, in part, to manage the crowds.
“We know there have been a lot of questions about what this section looks like, and I’ve heard a lot of horror stories of what people suspect it’s going to look like,” said HHFT Executive Director Amy Kacala. “So we want to get these images out, so that people know what we’re actually planning.”
The renderings, by landscape architecture firm SCAPE, are preliminary, she said, and only about 15 percent complete. After public events scheduled over the next few months, and more input from residents, the designers hope to have them 30 percent complete by spring. Open houses are scheduled at Hubbard Lodge for Jan. 28 and Feb. 25, along with workshops at which residents will be invited to examine the pros and cons of alternate routes.
“This is the time where a lot of ideas can come in and the team can explore them,” Kacala said. “People who do engage see their ideas incorporated,” such as benches that were added to the design.
Kacala said HHFT has met with various nonprofit groups for input, noting that sessions with Riverkeeper have been particularly helpful.
She said SCAPE has figured out how to keep about half of the Shoreline Trail out of the water so it will be less intrusive on the river. Many of the sections that will involve pilings are being designed so that one row will be on land, rather than in the water. In some sections, the trail can be supported on a single land piling.
The pilings will be concrete mixed to withstand the salinity of the river, she said. While wood was considered for aesthetic and ecological reasons, it would have to be replaced every 25 years, while concrete should last at least 75 years. Having to replace wooden pilings more often essentially erases the lower carbon footprint they would initially have over concrete ones, she said.
The plan is to build the Dockside-to-Little Stony Point section without placing construction equipment in the shallow, ecologically sensitive water. That may not be possible in the section between Little Stony Point and Breakneck, she said, but the water there is deeper.
The plan for Dockside is to follow the existing path from its northern border to the causeway, where there will be new public restrooms. Kacala said that HHFT has been talking with the village about ways in which the trail can support summer events at Dockside, such as fireworks and outdoor movie screenings. “Having bathrooms there probably helps,” she said.
She said planners from SCAPE watched fall arrivals of Seastreak cruises to get a better idea of how the trail might relieve crowding. Right now, when up to 400 passengers disembark, there’s nothing for them to do but parade up Main Street, choking the village, she said. Kacala said the hope was that the shoreline section will give “people some space to disperse instead of all of them hitting the village so hard.”
The downpour didn’t keep everyone away. One Garrison resident braved the rain because, he told Kacala, “I’m not persuaded yet, so I came here to get better informed.”
His chief concern was traffic at the Breakneck tunnel; he recounted a recent weekend when, while riding a school bus on his way to an athletic event in Dutchess County, double-parked cars and hikers crossing the road slowed the pace of traffic so much that it took 30 minutes to get from the village to the Metro-North station at Breakneck.
Kacala said that with a new parking lot, parking regulations, an upgraded train station and other design elements, the Breakneck Connector section should clear up traffic and make the area safer.
The resident remained cautious. “Some people I know have heard all these rumors about the trail but are still open-minded,” he said. “And some are not going to be convinced no matter what.”
Behind The Story
News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this post stated that Protect the Highlands argues the trail should begin at Little Stony Point. In fact, it advocates the trail starting at Breakneck.