Public to Learn About Rail Trail’s Philmont-Chatham Expansion
GHENT, N.Y.–Plans to expand the Harlem Valley Rail Trail from Philmont through Ghent to Chatham, N.Y., will be discussed at a public gathering Sunday Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. at the VFW Hall at 2237 Route 66 in Ghent.
The session, sponsored by the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association, will include a talk by the landscape architectural firm creating a construction-ready plan for the 8-mile addition, displays about the project and a question-and-answer session.
Board members of the rail trail association will be present as well as general members of the nonprofit community group, which helps guide the trail’s expansion and maintenance. The session will serve as the annual membership meeting of the association.
Work has already begun to create a shovel-ready engineering and construction plan for the new trail section, which will link the village of Philmont to the town of Ghent and village of Chatham.
“We encourage residents of our local communities, as well as the many people who use our existing trail and our members, to turn out for this informative session,” said Phil Meeks, chair of the HVRTA board.
The construction-ready documents are being created by MKM Landscape Architecture of New York. The firm has extensive experience in designing trails, including 2.5 miles of earlier extensions of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.
The new, fully paved section will dramatically increase the trail’s footprint and bring it to central and northern Columbia County for the first time. It will travel through farmland and scenic woodlands and run atop a stone-arch railroad bridge dating to the 1800s. The trail will terminate in the village of Chatham near the planned new Shaker Museum.
Funding for the $500,000 construction plan comes from a state grant and local funds to be raised by the rail trail association, in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Construction of the new section, whose cost hasn’t been determined, will require additional government and local funding.
The Harlem Valley Rail Trail currently consists of 26 paved miles that link the Metro-North Railroad station in Wassaic to Copake, along with a second section traveling 1.5 miles southeast from Hillsdale’s Hamlet. The association’s ultimate goal is a 46-mile continuous trail from Wassaic to Chatham following the path of the onetime New York and Harlem Railroad.