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SHAWANGUNK MOUNTAIN SCENIC BYWAY PRESS RELEASES

 

Press Releases
Contact: info@mtnscenicbyway.org

 


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November 7, 2012 / $1M to Improve Overlooks Along Shawangunk Ridge

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2012

CONTACT: Al Wegener
Executive Director Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership
(845) 399-0002

 

$1M to Improve Overlooks Along Shawangunk Ridge

The Times Herald Record, Published 11/07/12

NEW PALTZ - Three scenic overlooks on the Shawangunk Ridge are in line for an upgrade of $1 million, total.

A federal scenic byways program has earmarked $800,000 for the project. New York state will chip in the other $200,000.

The project will include curbing and pedestrian sidewalks, according to a press release. The work will also add seating areas and new information kiosks.

Two of the overlooks are located along Route 44/55; one in the Town Gardiner just west of the Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center, and the other in the Town of Rochester west of Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The third is in the Town of Wawarsing along Route 52, north of Cragsmoor and the entrance to Sam's Point Preserve.

 

Find a more detailed article on The Oracle »

 

(These articles based on a press release from the NY State D.O.T.)

For more information, contact:

Al Wegener at 845.399.0002 or aweg@earthlink.net or
John Valk, Chair and Shawangunk Supervisor at 895-2900
Carl Chipman, Vice Chair and Rochester Supervisor at 626-3043
Susan Zimet, Vice Chair and New Paltz Supervisor at 255-0604

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December 31, 2009 / 2009 Progress and Route Signage in 2010.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 31, 2009

CONTACT: Al Wegener
Executive Director Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership
(845) 399-0002

A PDF map of the Scenic Byway Region

 

Scenic Byway Group Sizes Up 2009 as a Year of Progress and Plans Route
Signage in 2010.

“We’ve made progress in 2009 on all three of our major goals,” says Al Wegener, Executive Director of the Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership, an 11-member intermunicipal management group for the Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway.

The goals he speaks of are “to gain economic growth through tourism; to help preserve our important scenic, natural, historic and recreational resources; and to improve the transportation system in the Shawangunk Mountains Region.”

“We were successful in adding a 5.8-mile section of Rts 44/55 through the hamlet of Gardiner to the byway. This required official approval by the New York State legislature and governor, and we appreciate the leadership of Assemblyperson Kevin Cahill and Senator John J. Bonacic in moving this through the state legislative process.

The addition brings the byway route to nearly 88 miles, encircling the northern Shawangunks and traveling through the Rondout and Wallkill valley towns of Crawford, Gardiner, Marbletown, Montgomery, New Paltz, Rochester, Rosendale, Shawangunk, Wawarsing and the villages of Ellenville and New Paltz.

“We launched our web site www.mtnscenicbyway.org in the spring,” says John Valk, chair of the partnership executive committee and supervisor of the Town of Shawangunk. “Our unique hits since June come to 4,077, and we feel this is a good start, thanks to Linda Engler of Ad Essentials in Gardiner.

“We also published our brochure in the fall, showcasing the region and the beauty we have here in the mountains and valleys with incredible photography, “continues Valk. “The 7,000 copies we printed went like hotcakes.”

“This promotional program was funded by a grant from the NYS Department of Economic Development, arranged by Senator John J. Bonacic to be administered by the Mohonk Preserve and from the Federal Highway Administration through the NYSDOT and administered by the Town of Wawarsing,” says Valk.

“While we are promoting tourism, at the same time we are working to preserve the important resources we have here in the region,” says Wegener.

“We are starting to implement our Regional Open Space Plan, which the partnership approved unanimously, and have just issued an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) to hire a consultant to work with us in 2010 on a project to help our local planning boards guide development so as to minimize the impact on our scenic views.

Funding for the Scenic Views Project, says Wegener, comes through the NYSDED grant administered by the Mohonk Preserve and another Federal Highway Administration National Scenic Byway Program grant administered by the Town of Shawangunk.

“The byway will take on a visual reality in 2010 because we’ve already started to work with NYSDOT on the sign program which will mark the byway route. This will take a lot of detailed planning by the DOT with each of our municipalities and Ulster and Orange county governments. But we’re hopeful the signs will be up by the fall of 2010.

“Another transportation program we’ve initiated is to enhance the five scenic pulloffs along the route,” continues Wegener. “We’d like to make these pulloffs really special for tourists and residents, with good landscaping and information about the region. This will take a lot of time and money. But we have started the conversation with the DOT and we have more planned for 2010.

“We appreciate the interest, help and participation we have received in 2009 from many individuals and organizations,” says Valk, “and our partnership looks forward to a continuation of this progress in 2010.”

For more information, contact:

Al Wegener at 845.399.0002 or aweg@earthlink.net or
John Valk, Chair and Shawangunk Supervisor at 895-2900
Carl Chipman, Vice Chair and Rochester Supervisor at 626-3043
Toni Hokanson, Vice Chair and New Paltz Supervisor at 255-0604

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Senator John Bonacic's 2010 Report to Residents

 

Senator John Bonacic Newsletter

 

Visit Senator John Bonacic's Website


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September 18, 2009 / Gov. signs bill expanding Scenic Byway in Gardiner.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 18, 2009

CONTACT: Al Wegener
Executive Director Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership
(845) 399-0002

A PDF map of the Scenic Byway Region

 

Gov. signs bill expanding Scenic Byway in Gardiner.

Governor David A. Paterson has signed into law a bill that expands the State-designated Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway by adding a 5.8 mile section of US44/NY55 in the town of Gardiner, it was announced today by Al Wegener, executive Director of the Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership, the byway organization.

The addition brings the total byway network to 88 miles and connects two byway routes, NY Route 299 and NY Route 208, to each other. The addition allows byway travelers going south along Rts 44/55 to continue on the byway through the hamlet of Gardiner and then south to the NYS Thruway Exit 17 in Newburgh.

Gardiner Town Supervisor Joe Katz says: “This addition enhances the basic byway concept by adding 5.8 miles of scenic beauty through the Gardiner countryside and the picturesque hamlet of Gardiner. It also provides access via the byway to a trailhead of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail and enhances business opportunities along the entire route, particularly in the hamlet.”

Wegener says the Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership prepared the application to the NYS Department of Transportation and then enlisted the support of Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and State Senator John J. Bonacic, who ushered the bill through both houses of the legislature.

The goals of the byway are to encourage economic growth through tourism, to improve transportation systems, and to preserve the important scenic, natural, historic and recreational resources of the Shawangunk Mountains Region.

For more information, contact:
Al Wegener at 845.399.0002, alabyway@gmail.com or
Joe Katz, Gardiner Supervisor at 845.255.9675

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May 8, 2009 / Byway group unveils tourism and preservation plans.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2009

CONTACT: Al Wegener
Executive Director Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership
(845) 399-0002


Byway group unveils tourism and preservation plans.

Shawangunk Mountains Region – Plans for economic growth through tourism and preserving open space were unveiled today by the Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership of the 11 municipalities participating in the State-designated Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway.

Web site features attractions of the Shawangunk Mountains Region.

The tourism plan features a new 19-page web site, now up and running at www.mtnscenicbyway.org. The site presents photographs and descriptions of the scenic, natural, recreational and historic attractions of the Shawangunk Mountains Region.

“We’re very proud of the web site,”says Al Wegener, executive director of the partnership. “Linda Engler and her creative team at Ad Essentials in Gardiner have done a super job of presenting the beauty and activities of the Shawangunk Mountains Region.

“But it’s not just for tourists,” he adds. “People who live here should check it out. I think they’ll gain an even greater appreciation for their town, the towns around them, the towns on the ‘other side’ of the mountains, and for the entire Shawangunk Mountains Region.”

The heart of the site is a map of the region, showing the 88-mile route of the Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway, including a 4.8-mile section through the Gardiner hamlet to be designated this summer. The route encircles the northern Shawangunk Mountains and tours the Rondout and Wallkill valleys, visiting the towns of Crawford, Gardiner, Marbletown, Montgomery, New Paltz, Rochester, Rosendale, Shawangunk, Wawarsing and the villages of Ellenville and New Paltz.

Shorter trips are also described: a northern loop with Rt. 299, Rts. 44/55 over the mountain to Rt. 209 and Lucas Tpke in the Rondout Valley, and then Rt. 213 and the Springtown Road section of Rt. 7; a trip along Rts. 44/55 from Rt.208 through the hamlet of Gardiner and over the Shawangunks to Rt. 209; a southern route from Rt. 209 in Wawarsing, through Ellenville and over the mountains on Rt. 52 into Pine Bush and then south on Rt. 302 into Bullville; and a Wallkill Valley tour from Pine Bush east along Rt. 52, north on Rt. 14 in the town of Montgomery and then Rt. 9, east on Bruyn Tpke. through Wallkill and then north on Rt. 208 to New Paltz.

A Regional Guest Artist section showcases artists in the region, starting with the landscape photography of the Shawangunk Mountains by award-winning professional photographer G. Steve Jordan, who has a studio at the Water Street Market in New Paltz.

Maps showing how to get to the byway, street maps of various communities, hiking and biking maps and information on public transportation are included along with links to the towns and villages, the tourism web sites for Ulster and Orange counties, and to other relevant sites in the region.

Information on the Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership is included on the web site along with the complete Byway Corridor Management Plan

The site is made possible by grants awarded to the NYS Scenic Byways Program through the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byways Program and by the NYS Department of Economic Development arranged by State Senator John J. Bonacic.

In addition to the web site, the regional tourism plan also includes a guide to the region in magazine format, which will be published in June, poster-size maps of the byway, publicity of byway activities and presentations to community and special-interest groups.

“The program expands next year to include portable kiosk visitor centers, a guide to our historic sites and antique shops, and a guide to the farms and farm markets in the region. We’ll also have signs, which are in the works with the DOT,”says Wegener

Byway partnership also issues regional open space plan.

The executive committee of the Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership of the 11 municipalities participating in the scenic byway have approved by unanimous vote the final draft of the Shawangunk Mountains Regional Open Space Plan and the plan is now available for viewing and downloading from the new web site at www.mtnscenicbyway.org.

The plan is illustrated with aerial and landscape photographs of the region and includes several interpretive maps. In summary, the plan calls for the partnership to be supportive of the work of land trusts in the region; to explore the ways suggested to finance conservation of open space resources, to guide development in a manner which is resource-friendly; to advocate for changes at the State level that will facilitate the preservation of open space in the region; and to track progress by the partnership in carrying out the plan.

“The plan has taken us nearly three years to complete, and people in all of the towns and villages have participated,” explains Al Wegener, executive director of the partnership. “It was originally approved in December. But then Elliott Auerbach and Vin Martello moved to the Ulster County government. Now Ellenville Mayor Jeff Kaplan and Marbletown Supervisor Brooke Pickering-Cole are representing their municipalities on our committee and they have approved the plan. So we feel good now about issuing the plan on our new web site and moving forward with it.”

Wegener points out that approval of the plan by the partnership’s executive committee does not constitute official approval by any of the municipalities. He says: “The plan is not intended to take the place of any town, village or county plan for preserving open space. The idea was to explore what we could do from a regional perspective, as a partnership of local towns and villages. And we found that there’s much our partnership can accomplish by working together to preserve the incredible beauty of our region. But, of course, it’s going to take people-power to do it.”

The area considered in the plan covers the region outlined by the route of the Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway and related areas, such as historic districts. In all, the region encompasses some 134,000 acres. Of these, 60,000 acres are in the mountains and the 320 farms in the region cover about 28,000 acres. About 33,500 acres are in a protected status, with around 89 percent of this in the mountains, leaving only 11 percent of the land in the valleys in a protected position.

The economic importance of agriculture ranks #1 in the region, and the plan points out that the contribution farms, orchards and vineyards make to tourism generates growth for many other businesses.

While the mountains are the centerpiece of the region, the plan emphasizes the importance of scenic views of the mountains across farmland and open space and includes specific strategies for preserving farmland and scenic views and for maintaining healthy forests.

The important role of land trusts is recognized and the plan suggests ways the regional partnership can work cooperatively with the six land trusts in the region, particularly to help preserve land in the valleys.

Strategies for financing conservation are also discussed. Among these is the idea of gaining State permitting legislation for town residents to be able to vote on a real estate transfer fee when the market turns around. Such a fee could be used for financing open space conservation.

The plan offers ways land can be developed in a manner friendly to the resources which are important to the well-being and character of the region, such as the connections between our mountains and other natural areas. The plan also outlines how the partnership of 11 municipalities can advocate for changes at the State level which would improve the ability of the region to conserve land and resources, such as gaining an appreciation of the value of scenic views to the tourism industry and having that reflected in the State’s Environmental Protection Fund.

Consultant for the project was Behan Planning Associates, LLC. The plan was funded through a collaboration of the NYS Department of State Qualities Community Program; the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byways Grant Program administered by the NYS Scenic Byways Program of the NYS Department of Transportation; the municipalities of the Shawangunk Mountains Regional Partnership; the Mohonk Preserve and the Shawangunk Ridge Biodiversity Partnership.

“We’re very pleased to be able to unveil our tourism and open space plans at the same time,” says Wegener. “It just came out that way. But they really do go hand-in-hand; at least, that’s the perspective our partnership has had from the very beginning.”

For more information, contact Al Wegener at 845.399.0002 or aweg@earthlink.net or
John Valk, Chair and Shawangunk Supervisor at 895-2900
Carl Chipman, Vice Chair and Rochester Supervisor at 626-3043
Toni Hokanson, Vice Chair and New Paltz Supervisor at 255-0604
Phil Jamison, Chair of Crawford Planning Board at 361-5892
Jeff Kaplan, Ellenville Mayor at 647-7080
Joe Katz, Gardiner Supervisor at 255-9675
Brooke Pickering-Cole, Marbletown Supervisor at 687-7601
Mike Hayes, Montgomery Supervisor at 457-2600
Terry Dungan, New Paltz Mayor at 255-141
Patrick McDonough, Rosendale Supervisor at 658-3159
Ed Jennings, Wawarsing Supervisor at 647-6570

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