The Kinderhook Trails will be an all-season foot, equestrian, and non-motorized vehicle trail along the National Grid right-of way with adjoining links to main junction points in Valatie, Ichabod Crane, Volunteers Park, and Niverville. This trail route was originally part of the Albany and Hudson electric railway trolley line that served as a vital transportation corridor in the early decades of the 1900s. The goal of the committee is to restore the trail to its former usefulness. Combined with the recent sidewalk projects in Valatie and Kinderhook, the completed trail will provide a safe and pleasant route throughout our entire town and eventually beyond to Lindenwald and areas in Stuyvesant. Most importantly, the completed trail will be a multi-use improvement with management, maintenance, and safety plans in effect to ensure its continued enjoyment for years to come.
Who will use Kinderhook Trails?
The trails are designed as multi-use foot and non-motorized vehicle trails for walking, running, biking, snow-shoeing, and cross-country skiing. They are intended to be wheelchair accessible and suitable for strollers, tricycles, and training wheels. It has been found that trails such as this are used by variety of people for a variety of reasons including nature lovers, dog walkers, exercisers, and those looking for alternate routes to their destinations.
Phases 1 and 2 of the Kinderhook Trails project will use the existing National Grid right-of-way from Valatie to Niverville. This right-of-way was historically the site of the Albany and Hudson electric railway trolley line that served as a vital transportation corridor in the early 1900s. Phase 3 will be an adjoining trail across predominantly State lands to Volunteers Park. In all, the trail will link key points along its route including Main Street in Valatie, the Ichabod Crane campus, Volunteers Park, and Main Street in Niverville near its intersection with Routes 203 and Newton Hill Road. Ultimately, connections to the trail are anticipated to extend south to Lindenwald and areas of Stuyvesant.
How will it affect property values?
National studies assessing the impact of trails on adjacent property values have found that property values typically increase slightly or remain constant.
In one example close to home, a 1998 study prepared by the Schenectady County Department of Planning on the impact of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Trial on adjoining residential properties concluded that the majority of the 215 respondents believe that the trail either increased or had no effect on the value of their property. 86% felt that the trail increased or had no impact on their ability to sell their homes.
In addition, trails can increase the overall desirability and value of a community. A nationwide study by the real estate industry reports that an overwhelming majority of home buyers look for communities with walking and bicycling paths and open space.
What about liability and insurance protection?
As already noted, Phases 1 and 2 of Kinderhook Trails are planned as an improved use of the existing National Grid right-of-way. Phase 3 uses predominantly State land. As such, the majority of the trail does not cross or use privately owned land. In general, New York’s Recreational Use Statute (NYS General Obligations Law subsection 9-103) limits the liability of landowners who voluntarily allow access to their land for certain recreational activities such as the most common trail activities. Historically, very few trail-related lawsuits have occurred in New York State.
How will it be funded?
A substantial amount of funding has been secured from the NYS Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP). In addition, donations and volunteers will be actively recruited as this approach has been successful with other trail projects. No land is being removed from the tax rolls to create the trail and every effort will be used to minimize the impact on local taxes.
Are trails safe?
The trail will be open from dawn to dusk. In general, trails have excellent safety records compared to other public and private places. A 1998 study of 372 trails nationwide found that trails are among the safest places in communities. Kinderhook Trails also has a plan in place to work with the Sheriff’s office in Volunteers Park and Emergency Response Units to ensure that the trails are monitored and accessible for safety and emergencies.
What about privacy and trespassing?
Trail use is a very directed “through” activity, which means that users generally stay on the trail without loitering or wandering astray. In addition, Kinderhook Trails will be clearly marked with signs, designated access points, and reminders to respect private property and stay on the trail. These measures have generally been effective. Homeowners adjacent to the popular Harlem Valley Rail Trail in southern Columbia County and Dutchess County cite almost no disturbance from trail users. In fact they report a decrease in problems since the trail became part of a designated and maintained trail system.
What about litter and vandalism?
Most trail users are respectful and considerate of private property and interested in preserving the natural beauty of the trail landscape. Thus, they have a built-in self-interest against litter and vandalism. But again, the signage and monitoring mentioned above will all promote well-kept trails.
Who will maintain the trails?
Kinderhook Trails will be a town responsibility and also enlist the assistance of interested volunteers and community groups to ensure that the trails are maintained. A “Friends of the Trail” will be formed to oversee the trail on an ongoing basis and coordinate maintenance and fund-raising efforts.
What is the plan and schedule for creating the trail?
The trail will be engineered and built to specifications. No schedule is set yet for creating the trail.
How will the trails affect local businesses?
In general, trails have a positive impact on the business climate by bringing increased tourism, an enhanced quality of life, and more people into the business areas of villages and towns. Many of the designated access points for the Kinderhook Trails open out to the local convenience stores or Main Street areas of the villages that benefit from the increased pedestrian traffic.
(much of the information provided here is taken from “Getting Started . . . A Guide to Planning Trails in New York State,” a joint publication of Parks & Trails New York and Hudson River Valley Greenway)