KINDERHOOK—U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) made a stop in the village Friday, April 15. He set up his podium at the place where the newly completed Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (AHET) passes between Rothermel Park and the Samascott Orchard, and with this as a backdrop, Sen. Schumer launched the Rural Outdoor Investment Act, a bill which he said would accelerate economic recovery for rural areas in New York. He said the money would provide funds for outdoor infrastructure, planning and business assistance “to drive tourism and revitalize downtowns.”
To underscore the importance of this for New Yorkers, Senator Schumer held up a press release from Outside Magazine proclaiming the Empire State Trail as the best rail trail in America.
“More and more people are recognizing the tremendous natural beauty of places like Columbia County and the government should recognize that investing in outdoor recreation is investing in the future of these rural and scenic communities,” he said.
The Rural Outdoor Investment (ROI) Act comes in three main headings: infrastructure, planning and business assistance. For infrastructure the ROI Act would provide $150 million over five years through the Economic Development Administration to fund assets like boat ramps, trails, campgrounds and other facilities.
The bill would provide $25 million over five years for planning grants and $12.5 million for university partnerships to promote research, education and technical assistance to local businesses and organizations.
The ROI would invest $62.5 million over five years for the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program. This would benefit businesses such as outdoor gear and equipment rentals, shuttles guides and outfitters as well as hotels and restaurants. The program is carried out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development, in coordination with the Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency to provide grants for planning and main street revitalization through outdoor recreation.
The press release issued along with the Senator’s visit to the county does not make clear exactly how the funds would be distributed.
The Empire State Trail winds through Columbia County on its way from New York City to Buffalo with a branch running due north from Albany to the Canadian border. Much of the trail in the county south of Hudson runs on the smaller paved roads roughly parallel to 9G. After passing through Hudson and Greenport the AHET begins, passing through Stockport north through the towns of Stuyvesant, Kinderhook and Chatham to Rensselaer County on the recently completed trail. It follows the old Electric Trolley tracks that brought early 20th century tourists from the train station in Hudson to the Electric Park on Kinderhook Lake.
For a map of the Empire State Trail, so go https://empiretrail.ny.gov