Cycling Up The Local Economy Wawarsing Board Plans For Trail Successes



In recent months, visions of the Nevele casino coming in to raise the area out of economic doldrums has been at the forefront of municipal leaders’ minds, although last week’s town board meeting saw Renegades Mountain Bike Club president Douglass Nikkila outline a different plan for Wawarsing at a much lower cost.
“Lippman Park is one of the premier destinations for mountain biking,” he said at the April 3 town board meeting, noting all the work members of the club have put in to create 15 miles of groomed trails, including over 50 various biking features such as boardwalks and bridges… an equivalent of nearly $200,000 in added value.
Now, Nikkila and the bike club want to develop even more trails through the park and, partnering with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, into neighboring areas.
“In our vision we saw how we could create a world class trail network that would draw tens of thousands of visitors to this area, a place where families or advanced riders could enjoy everything from the O & W Rail Trail to the groomed trails of Lippman Park and the back country experience of Vernooy Kill State Forest,” Nikkila added. “There are 12 million potential visitors living an hour and a half south of us, and we should tap into that.”
Nikkila pointed to success stories in Vermont and other parts of the Northeast, some of which see an influx of 50,000 trail users and approximately $5 million each year.
“This is a long term project with the potential to revitalize this community every bit as much as a casino, with little to no cost to the town,” he said, adding that the only thing the club asks for is the support of town officials, local business leaders, and residents to see their vision off.
To which the board said yes.
Also on the immediate horizon, according to board member Stephen Bradley, are upgrades to the Kerhonkson water district, where rehabilitation of a 450,000 gallon water tank and the complete re-do of a chemical storage building are moving forward and the town is attempting to secure a USDA grant and low interest loan to complete the final phase of a full district upgrade including the rehab of a 100,000 gallon water tank located on Route 44/55, the replacement of all remaining concrete and asbestos water lines in the hamlet, and the installation of all new water meters.
“When that project is done, the entire hamlet of Kerhonkson will basically have a fairly new water district which will last for quite a few decades without any main upkeep,” Bradley said.
Work on the Napanoch water filtration system is also nearing a completion date mid-summer, at which time most iron and manganese will finally be filtered out of the system. The Department of Health has deemed the water safe though less than appealing.
Additionally, board member Dan Johnson reported that a land agreement between the town and Ellenville Hospital for the hospital’s purchase of two parcels of land between Shop Rite and the airport is well underway, making development of a new senior housing complex imminent.
Wawarsing is looking to garner $150,000 from the sale of the property, as well as an additional $30,000 to $40,000 a year from a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement and water and sewer fees.
“I think all this stuff is good stuff,” Johnson said. Other board members agreed.
Wawarsing supervisor Leonard Distel informed the board that progress has been made with Time Warner and cable work has been completed on Tamarack Road in Greenfield Park, although more work needs to be done so all local residents can receive cable and internet. One hurdle — a disagreement between Time Warner and the town in the amount of $325,000 for new poles — has been ironed out in favor of the town, with final details still pending.
Additionally, Distel said that it might be time to look into the installation of security cameras throughout town, citing acts of vandalism and midnight sofa and couch dumpers.

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