Vital Signs: Do You Know Your Community’s Land Trust?

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One sure way to gauge the health of a community is to check out how active the local land trust is. Land trusts connect people to place and enable them to get involved in meaningful ways. Up in Kingston, the Kingston Land Trust was founded in 2008.

The group participates in a range of community events and activities, including Kingston’s Night Market, the YMCA Bike Fest, sponsorship of the Chronogram Block Party, and partnership with O+ Festival, all aimed at building support for recreation and active transportation projects that include the Kingston Greenline, a system of linear parks and complete streets to provide access for residents and visitors to the city’s special places and public spaces. The KLT is leading the effort, in close partnership with the City, to develop the Greenline.

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The KLT has also taken the lead in several urban agriculture initiatives, including sponsorship of last summer’s screening of the film “Growing Cities” as part of the YMCA Farm Project’s Harvest Dinner and the establishment of the South Pine Street City Farm, now expanded into a new farming venture, Revival City Farms.

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The Land Trust owns ten parcels of land that protect farmland, an historic entrance into a limestone mine and could ultimately provide access to the Esopus Creek. The land trust is working closely with developers at Hudson Landing on an Open Space Plan for access to the Hudson River along a 1-mile long promenade and trail system.

Land trusts help build capacity as we shape the place we live. In Kingston it goes well beyond the financial and in-kind support from the City of Kingston and state agencies to include the Land Trust Alliance, Parks&Trails NY, National Park Service Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance, the National Association of Realtors, Greenway Conservancy as well as corporate sponsors, private foundations and many generous donors.

About Gregg Swanzey

Gregg Swanzey, a longtime advocate for the Hudson River and the Mid-Hudson Region, first moved to the Rondout neighborhood in Kingston with his family in 1986 fresh off several years as Captain of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Since then, he has crossed the Atlantic three times, served as Executive Director for a gubernatorially appointed Commission in Massachusetts, and traveled to far-flung places such as St. Petersburg, Russia; Reykjavik, Iceland; and the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. After four years in City Hall as Director of Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships for the City of Kingston, he has recently come aboard as Executive Director for the Winnakee Land Trust based in Rhinebeck in Northern Dutchess County. On any given day you might see him out jogging on one of several rail trails that converge in Kingston, kayaking the Hudson over to Rhinecliff, biking Uptown to the Farmer’s Market, climbing to the top of Burger Hill in Winnakee’s Drayton Grant Park, or hanging out at home in a classic 1920’s Dutch Colonial overlooking the Hudson with his wife, Emma. His two daughters live and work in New York City but are regularly up the River for the weekend.

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