Community helping shape vision for park’s recreational, interpretive features
For Immediate Release
Contact: Riley Johndonnell, Communications Director: 415 797 0110; email@example.com
CITY OF KINGSTON/TOWN OF ULSTER — Recreation, access to the Hudson River, connecting with nature and exploring local history… These are the activities Kingston and Ulster residents want to enjoy in the state park taking shape in their communities. Scenic Hudson is committed to providing them.
Input gathered from virtual meetings and an online survey that attracted more than 1,400 responses already is helping to inform the planning of the 520-acre riverfront park that Scenic Hudson will be transferring to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Palisades Interstate Park Commission. Scenic Hudson protected the future parkland in 2019 and will keep on playing a key role in park planning, management and programming once the property is transferred to the state. Planning for the park’s future is not yet complete and continues to evolve. To achieve a shared vision, the organization continues urging community members to share perspectives about the park’s future potential at www.hudsoncliffsparkinfo.org.
Some new features at the park — including trails to the Hudson River and viewpoints atop dramatic cliffs — could open this year. To create them, much of the property will be an active construction zone and closed to the public to ensure safety. The Hudson River Brickyard Trail, built and managed by the City of Kingston as part of the Kingston Greenline and Empire State Trail, will remain open, but visitors are urged to stay on the trail and exercise caution.
Exciting opportunities to interpret site’s heritage
Community members also stressed the importance of providing interpretive features about the land and its use, beginning with Indigenous people who lived in small settlements along the river. On-site remains from the production of natural cement, brick-making, ice harvesting and manufacturing Portland cement make it a unique destination for telling the story of the Hudson Valley’s industrial and labor heritage from the mid-1800s to the late 20th century. At the same time, exposed rocks resulting from extensive mining operations lend themselves to studies of the region’s geology.
Scenic Hudson recommends keeping many industrial structures, including the chimney and mule barn dating to its brick-making period, as well as many low-rise remnants from the cement industry that can be integrated into the landscape. In view of their short- and long-term safety, liability and maintenance concerns, Scenic Hudson is removing the cement storage silos used during the brief period (1959-79) of manufacturing Portland cement. This also will enhance views from within the park, Kingston Point Beach and the Hudson River.
Park also expected to offer vast economic, ecological benefits
In addition to offering close-to-home outdoor recreation for residents of Kingston’s highly diverse and populated urban area, the park, when fully developed for public use, is expected to attract visitors whose spending will help restore the region’s tourism economy ($685 million in Ulster County prior to the pandemic). It also could host paying concessions and events that generate taxes and jobs.
At the same time, the vision for the park includes preserving and enhancing recovery of the land’s scarred but diverse habitats — from forest and wetlands to 1.3 miles of Hudson River shoreline. This will offer myriad human health benefits: Trees sequester pollutants that contribute to asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease; wetlands help keep drinking water clean and minimize flooding; biodiversity plays an important role in preventing diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease.
Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “Scenic Hudson looks forward to creating a shared vision for this park, which will be one of the mid-Hudson Valley’s premier riverfront destinations. With the opening of the Hudson River Brickyard Trail, it’s already a great place for recreation and enjoying magnificent views, but it will get even better in the years ahead, as we increase access to more of its compelling natural features and connect people to the site’s fascinating history.”
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said, “This new park will offer outstanding opportunities for people to enjoy recreation, connect with Ulster County’s natural beauty and explore some of the many ways our industries have contributed to the growth of our valley and nation. But perhaps most important, it restores access to a long stretch of the county’s Hudson Riverfront that has been off-limits to the public for two centuries. I thank Scenic Hudson and New York State for making this transformation possible.”
City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said, “We’re proud of our incredible parks system here in Kingston, and combined with the Kingston Greenline and the Hudson River Brickyard Trail, this new park will provide even more opportunities for residents to enjoy a variety of outdoor recreation, including much-desired access to the Hudson River. Having a state park in our city is also a great opportunity for economic growth and will stimulate our continued recovery efforts. I thank Scenic Hudson for engaging with our residents to share their visions for the new park and for its strong commitment to incorporating their ideas into future plans.”
Town of Ulster Supervisor James E. Quigley 3rd said, “This new park has the potential to enhance the lives of so many people in our community, both by providing a close-to-home place to enjoy the outdoors, and by attracting more tourists who will support local businesses. By offering space to hold gatherings, it also has the potential to strengthen community spirit, never more important than right now.”
Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ward Todd said, “This park couldn’t come at a better time. As we emerge from the pandemic, people are more eager than ever to explore new places, and a magnificent state park on the shore of the Hudson River is sure to be a crowd-pleasing destination, and a great reason for people to lengthen their visit to Ulster County. It should provide a great economic boost to businesses in Kingston, surrounding communities and the entire county.”
Kingston Land Trust Executive Director Julia Farr said, “It’s rare for a city our size to be gifted a large landscape like this, especially one with such a variety of exciting natural features and habitats that many residents have never been able to experience. We look forward to doing everything we can to expedite the park’s opening and continuing our partnership with Scenic Hudson to make sure it meets the expressed needs of Kingston’s diverse community.”
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Acting Executive Director and President Steve Stanne said, “We salute Scenic Hudson for recognizing the potential of this incredible landscape and acquiring it to establish this park. It will be a milestone in Scenic Hudson’s admirable history of creating parks that become community assets, assets that Clearwater often utilizes as we educate the next generation of environmental leaders. These parks are prime examples of stewardship for our students. Restoration at this site will be a model for remedying the damage caused by past extractive uses and creating a healthier and more inspiring Hudson Valley environment.”
Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said,“The new park will create a tremendous resource for residents and visitors to connect with the Hudson, its inspirational beauty and countless recreational opportunities. It will also be a unique demonstration of how humans can restore mother nature, damaged over time, for future generations.”
Friends of Historic Kingston Executive Director Jane Kellar said, “This new park is exciting for so many reasons. From a historical standpoint, it provides an outstanding opportunity to tell the story of Kingston, from its Indigenous inhabitants to its industrial importance in the 19th and 20th centuries, keeping the past for the present. We thank Scenic Hudson for its commitment to preserving the most important industrial structures on the site, especially the mule barn and chimney from the brick-making era. These are invaluable relics of our community history.”
Author and past Friends of Historic Kingston President Lowell Thing said, “I’m excited by Scenic Hudson’s imaginative yet open-ended vision for the new state park on the Hudson that will soon be so accessible to those of us who live in Kingston or the Town of Ulster. The plan acknowledges the site’s historic brick-making and cement industries, while trails will reveal the site’s extraordinary topography and range of natural habitat. The park promises to offer both a beautiful day by the river and something of an adventure at the same time. My family can’t wait!”