The Town of New Paltz is in the process of applying to the Hudson Valley Greenway for a $10,000 grant to examine the feasibility of building a bicycle and pedestrian trail.
The board passed a resolution at their Aug. 22 meeting to authorize the application for the grant, which would inspect the area west of the Carmine Liberta Bridge and down Route 299. The path would connect downtown New Paltz to the Wallkill View Farm Market.
The town created a committee in place to draft the proposal for the grant, which includes Town Supervisor Susan Zimet, Chris Marx from the Town of New Paltz, Bob Anderberg from the Open Space Institute, Glenn Hoagland and Eric Roth from the Mohonk Preserve, Chris Bernabo and Christine DeBoer from the Wallkill Valley Land Trust and Daniel Lipson of the New Paltz Bicycle/Pedestrian committee.
Zimet said the grant money, if awarded, would be used to hire a planner who would further examine the possibilities of implementing a bike path.
“We’re currently in the very early planning phases of the project,” Zimet said. “Should we get the grant, we would be bringing in a consultant to discuss what we would be able to build, and certain things we would have to do if we decided to eventually expand the first path.”
Zimet said even though the primary focus of the committee is to see a path built which reaches the Wallkill View Farm Market, that is only the first phase of a three phase project. The second phase of the project would take bicyclists and pedestrians to the Shawangunk Mountains and the third phase would extend the path to the Ulster County Fairgrounds.
“The three phases are something I hope to make a successful reality,” Zimet said. “It isn’t just people who live here that take advantage of bike-riding opportunities we offer. There are plenty of people who come up to the area with bicycles strapped to the back of their cars, and I can only see this bike path being advantageous to the community in the future.”
Zimet said a “paramount” concern of hers is safety for bicyclists, due to narrow shoulders on the side of the road. She said she believes that having the bicycle path put in place would help to keep them safe from auto traffic.
DeBoer said the bicycle path would be built so that the shoulders on the side of the road would be made larger or the path would be built 10 to 20 feet off of the road. She also said while she isn’t sure what the eventual costs would be should the path be approved in the future, but said she is confident it will become a reality.
“As of right now, there isn’t much of a way to figure out exactly how much this would cost us,” she said. “But I do believe if we are able to get this grant and The Carmine Liberta Bridge is the location for possible bicycle Path.then be able to move forward in making this bicycle path, we would be able to fundraise enough to make it a reality.”
Lipson said if the project were to be approved in the future, it could be a “huge game-changer.” for the community and SUNY New Paltz students, and that committee members are anticipating receiving the grant.
“I don’t have as great of a finger on the pulse as other committee members do, but I do know that other committee members are very confident that this will happen and that many believe it is just a matter of time,” he said.