By Amber Mundinger-Glaeser
From Issue 51: Fall 2021
As a newer Gardiner resident, I am in constant appreciation of the access we have to nature as well as the ability I have to walk out my door and be fully with nature. In one day, I can cycle up the mountains through the Mohonk Preserve, swim in Minnewaska Lake, run on the Rail Trail passing by Majestic Park, and if the timing is right, I can watch the colorful parachutes of those skydiving at The Ranch floating down from overhead.
A local advocacy organization, The Gardiner Trail Alliance, aims to further expand on the scope of residents’ access to nature with an idea that was first raised in 2018; a proposed set of sustainable, multi-use trail systems that would be located at Gardiner Park on the Town of Gardiner property behind the Gardiner Transfer Station. These proposed trails would provide community members access to town property for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing and more. It also would fulfill two prominent comprehensive plan goals for the town: 1 – reserving open mountain areas and much of the river valleys for public enjoyment, and 2 – improving public access to recreation on publicly owned lands. In 2020, Parks and Recreation fielded a survey which included a question about this site usage specifically, and 90% of survey respondents indicated that they wanted these trails and access to this site.
The 87 acres proposed for this project has significant river frontage, forested hills, open meadows and views of the Shawangunk Ridge. To move forward with this project, multiple partners, a coordinated effort between the Town of Gardiner, Gardiner Parks and Recreation, Gardiner Climate Smart, Gardiner Trail Alliance, Fats in the Cats and volunteers from the community and other area organizations, will come together, but the initial construction would have no cost to the town and low environmental impact. To date, more than 40 individuals in the community have also expressed interest and willingness to help through the Gardiner Trail Alliance website and written letters, according to Ilka Casey, Committee Chair for the Town of Gardiner’s Parks and Recreation Committee. She also noted that everyone who has been involved, including the town board, have been very generous with their time and efforts.
Although the project has many positives, there are also concerns. For example, traffic on Steve’s Lane could be increased to the point that there would need to be an alternate way to access the area. Or perhaps a “new” recreational area would bring visitors that would require additional management.
Personally, I welcome the prospect of having the use of this particularly scenic plot of land as well as further, future expansion of new trails and opportunities to be with nature. If you would like to learn more about the project, please visit gardinertrailalliance.org. Residents can also express their opinions on this proposed plan by writing letters to the town, attending board meetings, and contacting members of the various organizations involved.