In the Hudson Valley, it’s hard to take a step without coming across one development project or another. From new construction like the West End Lofts in Beacon to historic renovations such as Revel 32 in Poughkeepsie, building blocks are widespread throughout the region.
And then there’s Kingston.
Although the city is no stranger to business and industry (hello, Hotel Kinsley), it’s also a hub for nature and recreation. Thanks to a new move from Scenic Hudson, the Ulster County destination is poised to become a leading greenspace in the Valley.
At the end of October, the preservation group announced its purchase of 508 acres of forested and previously industrial land along the Hudson River. The majority of the acreage — 75 percent — lies within Kingston proper, with the remainder sectioned within the Town of Ulster. Prior to Scenic Hudson’s purchase, the former cement mine and processing facility grounds were destined for development into a 1,682-unit mixed-use site. The acquisition was made possible with the help of private donors like Eric and Wendy Schmidt, the Walbridge Fund, and The PCLB Foundation, to name a few.
“Securing this property will bring tremendous recreational, ecological, scientific, and economic benefits to city and town residents and the entire region,” notes Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “This acquisition represents Scenic Hudson’s most ambitious undertaking in its history to transform a former industrial site on the Hudson into a community asset in an urban setting.”
Ambitious it most certainly is. Not only is the chunk of land an expansive one, but it’s also home to a myriad of natural habitats and species. The grounds flow from 260 acres of woodlands into 37 acres of wetlands, with more than a mile of riverside views in the mix. Within this area, however, the remains of the processing facility continue to mark the land, acting as potential dangers that need to be addressed prior to any extensive preservation efforts on the property.
Regarding those preservation attempts, Scenic Hudson will keep the region closed to the public until it can address potential safety hazards and develop a concrete plan for development. To do so, it will reach out to the community, local residents, and stakeholders to determine how to best make use of the picturesque locale.
“Reclaiming and restoring this waterfront, long off-limits to the public, can transform the city’s relationship with the Hudson River and create new opportunities to build a strong sense of community by creating public spaces and programs that reflect residents’ needs and desires,” says Scenic Hudson Land Trust Executive Director Steve Rosenberg.
While the Kingston purchase is the grandest of Scenic Hudson’s undertakings to date, it is far from the only project helmed by the ecological preservation group. In recent years, the organization has helped the development of Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park in Beacon, Scenic Hudson Park at Irvington, Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park at Tarrytown, and Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing. Within Kingston, Scenic Hudson has assisted with everything from helping the Hudson River Maritime Museum acquire a site for its wooden boat-building school to opening its Juniper Flats Preserve to Wild Earth for an educational partnership.
“With Scenic Hudson at the helm of this ambitious project, we have the opportunity to create and exciting greenspace for residents and a destination for visitors to explore the unique recreational, cultural, and natural resources our city offers,” says Kingston Mayor Steve Noble. “I look forward to working with Scenic Hudson and our community partners to ensure that this long-vacant property is reborn into one of the largest and most unique urban parks in New York State.”