Jay Burgess Director of Communications, Scenic Hudson, Inc. Tel: (845) 473-4440 x222 Cell: (914) 489-0362 Fax: (845) 473-0740 email@example.com
POUGHKEEPSIE – The Dyson Foundation has awarded Scenic Hudson a $45,000 grant that enables the organization to spearhead a planning effort to maximize the economic, social and recreational benefits that surrounding communities derive from Walkway Over the Hudson. The grant builds on the Dyson Foundation's financial and institutional leadership in development of the Walkway and Scenic Hudson's track record of connecting people with the region's natural and historic treasures. The immediate success of Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, which has attracted more than 1 million visitors since its October 2009 opening, already has proven an economic boon to the City of Poughkeepsie and Town of Lloyd. The new planning initiative, known as Walkway as Gateway to Success, brings together a diverse group of stakeholders—including Scenic Hudson, Walkway Over the Hudson, local governments, chambers of commerce and businesses—to create a concrete vision for building upon this success, strengthening connections between the Walkway and other local and regional assets, and ensuring that future development around the Walkway supports the economic revitalization it is spurring. In Dutchess County and Ulster counties, tourists spend a combined $963 million annually, sustaining nearly 18,000 jobs.
Initiative's goals intended to generate economic development, jobsWalkway as Gateway to Success evolved out of a meeting convened in May by Scenic Hudson, Walkway Over the Hudson and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce with leaders representing 30 public and private stakeholders. They discussed ways of generating economic development and jobs in a manner that will protect the environmental and recreational assets surrounding the Walkway while providing safe, enjoyable connections to the communities' commercial and residential centers. The Dyson Foundation's grant will enable Scenic Hudson to work with three stakeholder committees involved in the Walkway as Gateway to Success initiative to develop a well-coordinated, strategic approach to achieve these goals. The types of outcomes it will support include:
- Developing a unifying brand for the Walkway and trails around it—including the 4.5-mile Walkway Loop Trail, Hudson Valley Rail Trail and Dutchess Rail Trail—promoting the Walkway region as a major destination for recreation and heritage-based tourism.
- Filling in "missing links" that will connect outlying parks and trails to the Walkway and nearby trails, creating a "green" infrastructure that enhances the Walkway region's tourism-based economy.
- Completing drafts of the Walkway/Rail Trail Gateway Overlay Zoning Districts in Poughkeepsie and Lloyd, respectively, so future development enhances the experience of Walkway visitors and maximizes economic benefits.
- Improving the Walkway Loop Trail, which links Walkway Over the Hudson and the Mid-Hudson Bridge with waterfront and downtown destinations in Poughkeepsie and Lloyd, so it further supports local businesses.
- Creating an inventory of vacant or underutilized sites in the Walkway's vicinity that could be developed to support economic revitalization as a tourism destination.
Grant builds on collaborative historyThe ambitious initiative to turn the Poughkeepsie-Highland railroad bridge into the world's longest elevated pedestrian span was led by the grassroots Walkway Over the Hudson and the Dyson Foundation with support from New York State, U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey and others. In addition to strongly supporting their efforts, Scenic Hudson joined in a unique partnership with state and municipal governments, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association and local businesses and residents to create the Walkway Loop Trail. Connecting the Walkway and Mid-Hudson Bridge, the 4.5-mile trail also provides easy access to area parks, historic destinations, restaurants, marinas and other points of interest along the Poughkeepsie and Lloyd waterfronts. The vision was to provide Walkway visitors with an array of scenic and cultural destinations, in the process promoting recreational and business activity along shorelines and downtowns on both sides of the Hudson.