There go the rails: Ulster County legislature votes to rip up tracks along Ashokan Reservoir

The county legislature on Tuesday, Nov. 14 voted 14-7 to remove some 11 miles of county-owned Ulster and Delaware rails and ties to make way for the construction of a hiking/biking trail around the northern end of the Ashokan Reservoir.

Project costs for the trail are estimated at some $9.3 million with about half being funded by the New York City Department of Environmental Preservation, which owns the reservoir.

Rail supporters had hoped to retain an 1.1 mile stretch of rail ending at the Glenford Dike in order to extend Catskill Mountain Railroad scenic rides to view the reservoir.


The legislation approved Tuesday night fulfills a December 2016 compromise which allowed CMRR to operate its tourist trains from Kingston to West Hurley while the county moved forward with plans to establish the Ashokan hiking/biking trail.

Kingston legislators Jennifer Schwartz Berky and Peter Loughran, both of whom will not be on the legislature in 2018, were absent.

Voting against the proposal on the Republican side were Mary Wawro, Dean Fabiano, Ronald Lapp and Richard Parete. Also voting no were Democrats Dave Donaldson, Manna Jo Greene and John Parete.

Separate votes on construction amendments were approved 15-6, with Richard Parete joining the majority.

During public comment, 41 persons spoke in favor of the compromise legislation, nine to preserve the train tracks.

About 100 union construction workers attended the meeting in support of the legislation.

The legislature unanimously approved a $420,000 bond issue to finance construction of a restorative justice center at the county probation office on upper Broadway in Kingston.

There are 7 comments

  1. LeRoy Hogan

    Historically speaking, its a sad day to know more history will be destroyed. The next nearby threat is a planned mall on top of Revolutionary War graves in Fishkill, NY.

  2. Concerned taxpayer

    ” a December 2016 compromise which allowed CMRR to operate its tourist trains from Kingston to West Hurley “.

    This was a) not a compromise. It was more like appropriating someone’s house, allowing them to use a single room and saying ‘take it or leave it.’. b) Not to West Hurley proper. the reservoir and the chinese wall are in West Hurley. The terminus allowed by the County is Rte 28a crossing in Stony Hollow, some distance away. The track between is in excellent condition too.

    1. snarky malarky

      The railroad came away with far more than they earned in their previous lease.
      The track between where they are now MP 6.55 and Basin Road MP 10 is in terrible shape.
      Unsupported rails in the air, graham cracker density ties, washout… a veritable laundry list of maintenance failure in that section.
      Their continued failure to abide by the terms of the current operating license will result in no contract after this one….AND, once again, it will be everyone else’s fault but theirs…

      1. ITR

        25,000 people are coming to Ulster county to ride the polar express. It’s sold out. Double that Number if Thomas the tank comes. If Ulster county is willing to give that up, it’s nobody else’s fault but theirs….

        1. snarky malarky

          The railroad has adequate track to serve both venues…BY DESIGN!
          If, once again, the railroad fails to honor the terms of it’s agreement, it will not have any rails to run on, and they will only have themselves to blame.

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