More than 250 take part in inaugural New Paltz Challenge River-to-Ridge Fall 5K

Joe Foti warms up for the inaugural 5K River-to-Ridge run with his four-year-old daughter Lizzie. (Photos by Lauren Thomas)

The opening of a trail through the flats to the foothills of the Shawangunks has created a world of possibilities, one of which was realized this week in the inaugural New Paltz Challenge River-to-Ridge 5K race. More than 250 participants took to the gravel path on a brisk November morning, the Sunday sky blue with promise.

As with any event organized under the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce banner, this one was executed through the hard work of a bevy of volunteers dating back weeks, if not months. Runners (and walkers, as not everyone was in any hurry to finish) had access to fresh fruit and bottled water donated by local business owners, and laid out ahead of the 9 a.m. start time by Chamber and community members, including what appeared to be the entire high school swim team. Those who registered lingered to eye the unbaked apple pies — prepared and watched over by members of the Woodcrest Bruderhof community — which would be awarded to winners of various categories. Those who weren’t planning on running, after seeing those rewards, might have been tempted to sidle up to their athletic friends.


The course was laid out along the new trail, with the dual start and finish staked out across Springtown Road from the parking area to minimize road crossings. Even so, flag-wielding volunteers stood by ready to halt motorized traffic when needed. More helpers stood by to provide water along the course, which wended up into the foothills but looped back without crossing over into Mohonk Preserve, where a promised extension of the trail is not yet complete.

Some came to win, including SUNY New Paltz swim coach Tom Eickelberg, who was indeed the first to cross the finish line at a hair less than 18 minutes after the run began. Others were curious about this trail, which provides access to land that until recently was largely a refuge for non-human residents. Most asked admitted to some interest in pie.

Salisbury Mills residents Joanne and Jim Bixler said that they’re regular hikers in the area, but this was their first time on the River-to-Ridge trail. They were joined by friend Debi Heyer, who said she’s relatively new to running, but not as new to eating pie.

SUNY New Paltz students Allison Seyler and Alexandra Mancuso at Sunday’s 5K race in New Paltz.

Kevin Borden lives nearby, and has been using the trail “a couple times a week” since it was opened to the public in September. “I’m excited about the extension into the Preserve,” he said, noting that the foothills is an area largely unseen by humans in recent decades.

The crushed-stone surface felt good underfoot, the cool air evaporated ample sweat in short order, and the views on the way up and down were alone worth the trip. New Paltz resident Mike Beck observed that it “reminds me why I live here.”

Although they came for the camaraderie, the competition, and to vie for the pie, there was swag aplenty for any and all. Frisbees, shopping bags and other knickknacks were handed out eagerly by Chamber members hoping not to load them back into their cars. Participants also got commemorative t-shirts for signing up and medals for completing the race. Those who came out tops in their age-and-gender category received a certificate, over and above any pies which were awarded.

There are 10 comments

  1. FunkieGunkie

    Everyone does realize that heavily trafficked open spaces and more trails force the wildlife to migrate elsewhere. Ever since the fences got put up there are less deer in the fields. And ever since the construction started there has been less and less wildlife in that area. I’m glad it makes people happy to use the Trail but it comes with a cost to the ecosystem in the name of ecotourism.

  2. taxpayer

    OSI is owned by the Rockerfellers and they get 100% tax exemption. That means the taxes that were paid by the former owners is now paid by the you, me and the rest of the taxpayers instead of a multimillion dollar “non for profit” organization.

    1. Wonderin'

      The Open Space Institute owns six different parcels in New Paltz, only one of which is “wholly tax exempt”. The other five parcels are taxed, but parts of those five parcels have “agricultural” exemptions, which reduce the taxable portions greatly.

      The popular myth is that “taxes are high” because of all the “wholly exempt parcels” like Wetlands Ponds, SUNY and OSI owned parcels. Why folks keep repeating that myth, I’ll never know?

      1. FunkieGunkie

        Then why do taxes keep increasing and why are they as high as they are in the first place? The 857 acres that were once part of the Mountain House are now off the tax roles. As are any parcel that the Mohonk Preserve, OSI, and SUNY own. New Paltz is a Mecca for not for profit organizations.

        1. Maimonides

          “Off the tax rolls” would mean that the assessing unit has made an “error”. There is an “error form” that would need to be filled out and filed with county in order to make a correction. If a parcel was left “off the tax rolls” intentionally, that would be a prosecutable crime against the Town. The acreage you refer to is NOT “off the tax rolls”, they are “wholly tax exempt” except for one parcel with a house(s) on it assessed and taxed at $1 million.
          The OSI has wholly exempt parcels also, except for one, which is taxed.
          All SUNY campus are taxed exempt, like churches, synagogues, Salvation Army, etc.

          As to why taxes keep increasing, it is not because New Paltz is a “haven” for wholly-tax exempt properties? Taxes keep increasing for a whole other reason. Even your Town Board cannot tell you why, nor the Village Board, nor anybody else.

          1. taxpayer

            The Town and Village Boards are both incompetent. When they decide to hire a new employee they offer a pension to go along with employment. Thats why taxes are going up. We as taxpayers end up paying for this pension. We should do away with pensions and let the employee figure out how to save money for retirement. Its about time that we stop letting employers and banks be “mommy and daddy” for the employees. Let these employees decide what to do with “pension money.” They can start a side business, buy a rental properry, invest in the stock market, or invest in their own pension. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR MONEY.

          2. FunkieGunkie

            Thx for your enlightening semantics. They are tax exempt. We all know that! We also know that over 37% of the towns revenue is tax exempt due to not for profits. That’s a lot of missing money. Coupled with Ulster IDA tax relief for new large businesses, pensions, health benefits and increasing costs of goods and services, the Town is suffering and doesn’t seem to have any plan but to increase taxes.

    2. Mayor Me

      To “taxpayer”

      The Village as a municipality is not required to exist, it is a voluntary municipal organization, which in this case, also owns all the fire equipment. It is the only fire department in the county that is not part of a “district”. Villagers own the fire department equipment and buildings, and the volunteers give their labor gratis.

      Nevertheless, if you want to get rid of the youth director, at $82,000 a year, although the youth-center is in the Village, the youth director is hired by the Town. The youth director has been around for a number of decades, at a comparable salary, so you need to go to the School Board where all the kids come from. Get it? Everything has been divided up to provide total confusion amongst the taxpayers.

      As to why taxes keep going up, it’s not for any of the reasons you stated. Yes, you are not getting a fair tax break because all these employees need to keep their salary, benefits and pension, but that is not what is the real problem. Keep trying though, you may well hit the bell-curve.

  3. FunkieGunkie

    The Town leased its land to OSI for the R2R parking lot for free. It’s amazing that a town so desperate for revenue is giving freebies to multimillion dollar not for profits. Also the Town is responsible for plowing and public safety of said parking lot. Thank you taxpayers!!!!

    1. Johnny Weismuller

      The Town and Village privatized the public park at Church and Mulberry Streets. The town is responsible for plowing, mowing, maintenance and salaries. Thank you taxpayers!!!!

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