How to rezone, redevelop and revitalize the Walkway’s gateway to Highland

Walkway Over the Hudson. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

A meeting of the minds was held in the Town of Lloyd last Wednesday to look at ways in which the town might rezone, redevelop and revitalize various corridors to try and build off the approximately one million visitors to the Walkway Over the Hudson who have poured into the Hudson Valley since the pedestrian bridge opened in October of 2009. This was one of a series of meetings that are being co-sponsored by Scenic Hudson, Walkway over the Hudson, the City of Poughkeepsie and the Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce in an effort to improve Walkway gateway communities like Lloyd and Poughkeepsie, which are now linked together by the 1.2-mile elevated pedestrian footbridge, a former train trestle turned into a Historic Landmark and an increasingly popular tourist destination.

The Dyson Foundation, which provided substantial funding and grants to help get the Walkway designed and rebuilt as a linear park in the air, has continued to help fund the promotion of the Walkway through grants that led to focus groups in New York City (deemed to provide the most visitors to the Walkway) that focused on ways to help brand the Walkway and the gateway communities around it so that the entire region became a destination spot.

“We want to entice visitors to Highland,” said Jeff Anzevino of Scenic Hudson, who led the brainstorming session. “That’s the goal here, and it’s the same goal we have for Poughkeepsie and the Walkway region: to extend the successful branding of the Walkway to the hamlet of Highland, the City of Poughkeepsie and to eventually link up to all of the region’s rail trails to have a world-class rail-trail system.”

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He pointed to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, which now links directly to the Walkway and the Dutchess County rail-trail system and has made progress in linking up to the Walkway. He also cited the future plans to help extend the Hudson Valley Rail Trail to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, which runs north-to-south from Gardiner through New Paltz into Rosendale, over another railroad trestle that is being renovated, into the City of Kingston.

“This is an exciting time for the Town of Lloyd, and we need to plan our next step, create benchmarks as we continue our efforts to build and revitalize around the rail trail and the Walkway Over the Hudson,” said councilman Jeff Paladino.

“The Town Board made a lot of progress towards proposing various rezoning efforts, but the Planning Board became overwhelmed. And now we need all of your input and voices to help to shape what you want to see here — how can we improve the gateway and bring more people and businesses to Highland,” said Anzevino. To that end, there were large maps projected that showed various areas in the town where rezoning could be useful — particularly in the area just off Haviland Road, as visitors enter the parking lot for the Walkway.

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