KINDERHOOK–Andy Beers, a representative from the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail, spoke to a full house at the Ichabod Crane School Auditorium last week about the plans for a walking and biking trail that would run from the City of Albany to the City of Hudson. Mr. Beers said this meeting was the beginning of a year-long public conversation about the trail.
He said that the August 10 meeting was “not a public hearing” but that after his presentation people could leave written comments and talk to staff working on the project who were set up outside the auditorium and in the High School Library with maps and post-it notes.
Mr. Beers told the group of county residents at the meeting, “We know there are a variety of issues.”
“There are people here with concerns, serious concerns,” he said, but he also stressed that the group that will be designing and building the trail is “committed to a long-term engagement” with the community.
According to the trail group’s new website, the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (AHET) “will be a shared-use bicycling and pedestrian trail along the 35-mile Albany-Hudson Electric Trolley corridor” from Hudson to the City of Rensselaer, which lies directly across the river from Albany.
The trail project is part of the state’s Hudson River Valley Greenway and state officials are working with Alta Planning + Design, a Troy company, on the design.
Mr. Beers said the funding for the project–expected to call for between $35- and $45 million– will come from the state and that the state has an agreement with National Grid to use the power company’s land, which was once the route taken by the trolley.
He said there would no cost to the villages and towns that the trail runs through for construction of the trail and the group would handle some long-term maintenance of the trail. But the AHET is asking the municipalities along the trial to do general maintenance like mowing and plowing.
“We do not have the staff at all to manage a trail,” he said.
In Columbia County the trail would pass through North Chatham in the Town of Chatham, the Villages of Valatie and Kinderhook and other parts of the town of Kinderhook, as well as the Towns Stuyvesant, Stockport and Greenport and the City of Hudson.
He talked about paving the trail in the more urban sections and using stone in the rural parts of the trails, which he said would be most of Columbia County.
The plan for the trail is to start the formal design in 2018, award bids in construction bids in the fall of next year and have the work completed by 2020.
There are still some local design issues to work out, Mr. Beers said, including the Route 9 and Main Street intersection in Valatie, and part of the trail along Route 203.
He said that National Grid would not permit the trail to be used by ATVs or for any equestrian activities. He said that once the trail is completed, the prohibition on ATV will be effective, saying, “We feel pretty confident fairly quickly we’ll get that under control.”
He also said he has heard from some people who would like to ride horses on the trail. “We’ll have that conversation with National Grid” before that could happen, Mr. Beers said.
For most of the evening, Mr. Beers and other representatives from the AHET talked to residents about their concerns. Board members from the Kinderhook and Chatham town boards where at the meeting, as well as the mayors of both Valatie and Kinderhook.
Mr. Beers said, after the presentation, that they had used plans from the KSS (Kinderhook Stockport Stuyvesant) trail committee when looking into this trail. The KSS trial was proposed in 2010 along the National Grid land but was never completed.
Mr. Beers did not mention when a public hearing in the county would be held. He did say during his presentation that representatives from AHET would come to local meetings to discuss the plans if asked.
The project website is www.ahettrail.org.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email firstname.lastname@example.org