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Michael G. Breslin - Albany County Executive 112 State Street - Room 200 Albany, NY 12207
FOR RELEASE: Immediate January 13, 2010 CONTACT: Mary Duryea at 447-7040
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 Albany County Rail Trail. The County purchased the nine-mile stretch of the old Delaware & Hudson Railway between the Port of Albany and 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 land conservation 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 these nine-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 and technical support to make this acquisition possible.” “Scenic Hudson is ecstatic that this day has finally come,” said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson. “The new rail trail will run through the heart of several Albany area communities, linking them to the port of Albany and trails along the Hudson River. We appreciate the long-standing commitment of County Executive Mike Breslin and his staff to this 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, safety improvements and repair of several bridges. The County and its partners are actively researching grants and other funding opportunities for the development. Currently, the project is included in the 2007-2012 Federal Transportation Improvement Plan and the County has applied for an Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant from the US Department 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 Executive Breslin for his leadership on this project and applaud Scenic Hudson for their support for the trail and their continuing outstanding stewardship throughout the Hudson Valley.” -moreRail 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 to trail 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 I share the frustration of many residents at the length of time it is taking to bring the rail trail to functioning reality, I am encouraged 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 hard work so many have thus far contributed, and I remain optimistic that we will find the resources to develop the trail to its full 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 nonprofit 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 rail trail 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 in thanking 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 vital connections between communities.” Martin Daley, project director at Parks & Trails New York said, “Parks & Trails New York has long supported the County’s efforts leading up to this significant event. We’ve provided technical assistance to promote the Albany County 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 quality of 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 nonmotorized transportation alternatives, opportunities for physical fitness and to enjoy the outdoors and increased property values for surrounding communities. More information about the project is available at www.albanycounty.com/railtrail. To become a member of FORT, visit www.MohawkHudson.org. Funding support for Scenic Hudson’s work on negotiating this transaction came from its Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Hudson Valley Land Preservation Endowment and the 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 a vital resource for residents and visitors. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, it is the largest environmental group focused 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 the valley's inspiring beauty and natural resources.