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Rail Trail PR 1-13-10

Rail Trail PR 1-13-10

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Published by: tulocalpolitics on Jan 14, 2010
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News Release
Michael G. Breslin - Albany County Executive
112 State Street - Room 200 Albany, NY 12207
:Mary Duryea at 447-7040January 13, 2010
County Completes Purchase of Albany County Rail Trail
Funding From State and Scenic Hudson Make Purchase Possible
Albany County Executive Mike Breslin announced today the completion of the purchase of the future AlbanyCounty Rail Trail.The County purchased the nine-mile stretch of the old Delaware & Hudson Railway between the Port of Albanyand Voorheesville for $700,000 from Canadian Pacific Railway with a 2003 grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) of $350,000. Scenic Hudson, a Poughkeepsie-based non-profit landconservation organization, donated the matching funds of $350,000 to complete the purchase.“This is an exciting milestone for our community,” said Breslin. “We have achieved our goal to preserve thesenine-miles of scenic open space for future development as the Albany County Rail Trail. I must thank our partners,Scenic Hudson and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, for their financial andtechnical support to make this acquisition possible.”“Scenic Hudson is ecstatic that this day has finally come,” said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson. “Thenew rail trail will run through the heart of several Albany area communities, linking them to the port of Albany and trailsalong the Hudson River. We appreciate the long-standing commitment of County Executive Mike Breslin and his staff tothis project, and we thank Canadian Pacific Rail for its willingness to part with this important corridor.”The abandoned rail line will eventually be developed into a recreational trail for pedestrian and bicycle use.Although the County has assumed ownership, the property is closed to the public for the time being since various portions of the trail are not deemed safe for public access or use.The total cost to develop the trail is approximately $7.8 million, which includes construction of the trail, safetyimprovements and repair of several bridges. The County and its partners are actively researching grants and other fundingopportunities for the development. Currently, the project is included in the 2007-2012 Federal TransportationImprovement Plan and the County has applied for an Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant from the USDepartment of Energy. Construction will not begin until grant funds to cover the entire project cost have been secured.“It is gratifying when our park matching grants transform blighted infrastructure into assets that contribute to public health, sustainable living and recreation,” said OPRHP Commissioner Carol Ash. “I commend County ExecutiveBreslin for his leadership on this project and applaud Scenic Hudson for their support for the trail and their continuingoutstanding stewardship throughout the Hudson Valley.”-more-
Rail Trail---Page 2
Canadian Pacific Railway abandoned the nine mile rail line in 2003. The County and Scenic Hudson immediately began negotiations with Canadian Pacific for the purchase of the property. The County also filed a request for Railbanking with the federal government’s Surface Transportation Board, which preserves the corridor by converting it totrail use and prevents the property from being broken up and sold piecemeal.Charles Dawson, chair of the County Legislature's Conservation & Improvement Committee, said that “while Ishare the frustration of many residents at the length of time it is taking to bring the rail trail to functioning reality, I amencouraged that we continue to reach significant milestones, such as finally taking title to this unique asset. If only the path to completing this transaction had been as straight as the rail trail itself. In any event, I am grateful for the hardwork so many have thus far contributed, and I remain optimistic that we will find the resources to develop the trail to itsfull potential in the very near future.”Public input and support is a critical component to the long term success of the project. Scenic Hudson, the non- profit organization Parks & Trails New York and the “Friends of the Rail Trail” (FORT) volunteer group, a committee of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, will continue to play a valuable role in the public planning process for the railtrail as well as promoting further public participation.“We are thrilled this milestone has finally been reached, and join the thousands who will use this trail inthanking the County for its purchase!” said Dan Rain, co-chair of FORT. “The trail will provide easy, affordable, local options for health and fitness;alternatives for commuting to work; a significant boost to nearby businesses; and vitalconnections between communities.”Martin Daley, project director at Parks & Trails New York said, “Parks & Trails New York has long supportedthe County’s efforts leading up to this significant event. We’ve provided technical assistance to promote the AlbanyCounty Rail Trail development as part of our 
 Healthy Trails Healthy People Program
, sponsored by a grant from the NYS Department of Health. When complete the trail will provide residents of Albany County with opportunities for healthy transportation and recreation. It will encourage users to spend money locally and contribute greatly to the qualityof life in the county. We are hopeful the trail will someday connect to the Mohawk Hudson Bike Hike Trail, thus becoming a key component in a growing network of world-class multi-use trails in the region.”The many benefits of rail trails include preservation of open space, community linkages, promotion of non-motorized transportation alternatives, opportunities for physical fitness and to enjoy the outdoors and increased propertyvalues for surrounding communities.More information about the project is available atwww.albanycounty.com/railtrail. To become a member of FORT, visitwww.MohawkHudson.org.Funding support for Scenic Hudson’s work on negotiating this transaction came fromits Lila Acheson andDeWitt Wallace Hudson Valley Land Preservation Endowment andthe Albany-based Bender Family Foundation.
Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and avital resource for residents and visitors. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, it is the largest environmental groupfocused on the Hudson River Valley, utilizing land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated  planning tools to create environmentally and economically healthy communities, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve thevalley's inspiring beauty and natural resources.

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