Ruth Elwell steps down as president of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail Association

Outgoing Wallkill Valley Land Trust president Ruth Elwell and incoming president Pat Kelly. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Ruth Elwell, longtime president of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail Association (WVRTA), is stepping down from her post. At this past week’s annual WVRTA meeting, Elwell announced that this is “the end of my reign. I was going to wear a tiara, but decided against it!” she said with a laugh.

Her board of volunteers presented her with a photograph by local artist Hardie Truesdale of an autumnal trail scene as a gift for all of her work over the years leading the WVRTA toward greater heights. “Your fingerprints are all over these trails and this organization, and you will be greatly missed,” said Lynn Bowdery, fellow Board member and dear friend.


“We’ve walked many of these trails together and will continue to do so,” said Elwell. “I’ve held many positions, but this has been far and away my favorite post,” she said. “I was also the Village Planning Board chair for a couple of years, and had to get used to be[ing] yelled at. In all of the years I’ve served on this board, I’ve never been yelled at, which was a nice change. Constructive criticism? Yes, but never yelled at. I will miss this organization, miss all of you, and will rely on your continued support and dedication and energy and time toward our beloved rail trail.”

With that, Elwell nominated her vice president Pat Kelly to become her successor. “There were a few months where I was ill and Pat took over for me and did an outstanding job. I have a great deal of confidence in her, and hope that you do as well.”

The board and the membership moved to elect Kelly as their new president. Elwell will remain on the board until such time as she decides to move in a different direction.

Kelly noted that one of her main goals was to update the website, update the organization’s communications and the utilization of social media. “When this organization began 21 years ago, we didn’t really have any of this. But it’s long overdue that we try and access and communicate with our membership, the media and the public in every possible form.”

For the first time, the WVRTA has its own office, located on Huguenot Street right next to the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, with whom it partners on many projects.

“We’re working on our strategic trails plan, and with the doubling of our rail trail in size and the possibilities of increasing our trails into the townships of Wallkill and Walden, there is a lot of work to do ahead,” said Kelly. The new president also wants to establish a monthly event that the WVRTA hosts, whether it be participating in the annual Clean Sweep, group walks or trail conferences and lectures.

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