The Kingston Land Trust (KLT) has purchased 61-81 Gross Street in Kingston from Ulster Habitat for Humanity with a grant for the full purchase from the Open Space Institute (OSI). The KLT plans to use this .86 acre undeveloped wooded property as a public space that will provide amenities and respite for trail users and surrounding community. This property is the first sizable and easily accessible Kingston property in the Kingston Land Trust’s portfolio of protected land. It will serve as a land base for the organization’s outdoor engagement activities, including cleanups and plantings along the Kingston Greenline, the KLT’s joint initiative with the City and County. The KLT was interested in this site particularly because it can serve as a connector for neighboring institutions. “The acquisition of this property is a resounding win for the community of Kingston, today and for future generations,” says Kim Elliman, president of CEO of OSI. “OSI is delighted to continue our commitment to this beautiful and growing Hudson Valley hub. We applaud the commitment of Kingston Land Trust to improving the local community.”
This newly protected land is located between Gross Street and Murray Street in the Rondout neighborhood of Kingston, situated between the City of Kingston’s Hasbrouck Park on its east side and, on its west side, a section of the Kingston Greenline that will open to the public this summer. John F Kennedy Elementary School and Rondout Gardens Public Housing are to the north and south, respectively, and a paved walkway, the “Pathway to Knowledge,” in between passes through the KLT property. The KLT intends for the site to complement the Rondout Community Garden and the school’s vegetable garden. To the west of the site is Iglesia Evangélica Amigos, a Hispanic church whose youth group has already participated in a program hosted by the KLT, at which they tapped sugar maple trees on the property. “We are happy that the Kingston Land Trust purchased this property, and we hope to see it become a recreational space, along with the Kingston Greenline, where families can safely enjoy the nature that we have behind the church. Many of our church members do not have much green space near their homes,” says Pastor Urrutia.
Vision for the Site
City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble hopes to work together with the KLT to provide pedestrian access through this site from the Greenline to Hasbrouck Park. “I wholeheartedly support the acquisition of this land, which is a lovely and dense piece of green,” says Mayor Noble. “Connecting two of our outdoor recreational treasures – the Kingston Point Rail Trail and Hasbrouck Park – can only add to our residents’ enjoyment and wellbeing. Neighboring the Iglesia Amigos Church, John F. Kennedy Elementary School and the Rondout Gardens Housing Complex, this patch of land will give open space access to so many area residents.”
Other ideas that have arisen for using this property through the KLT brainstorming with partner organizations include a fitness station, a bike-fixing station, outdoor education, a covered meeting area and sculpture. During 2019, the KLT will continue outreach to communities around the property as well as other stakeholders in order to develop a plan for its use, starting with a spring cleanup of the site on Saturday May 11th from 4:30-6:00pm.
Ecological Design and Management
The KLT’s management of this site will help it transition from a successional forest on historically disturbed land to a more stable and mature upland hardwood forest. The property will act as an ecological buffer for the adjacent upland hardwood forest and calcareous crest, ledge, talus, and cave habitat, increasing the connectivity of this biologically important corridor. The design of the site will be based on guidelines that the KLT has developed for public space, which include considerations and recommendations for plantings, amenities, aesthetics and ecological impact, as well as an inclusive community design process.
Whereas other land trusts in the region focus on preserving larger parcels, the KLT finds significance in small parcels, like this site, that can provide ecological and social benefits to our urban community. Last year, the KLT became aware of Ulster Habitat’s interest in this property being used as community space. Ulster Habitat had determined that the property was undevelopable for housing due to its rocky and steep terrain and lack of services and offered to sell the property to the KLT at a below-market rate with commitment towards its stewardship. “Ulster Habitat is pleased to partner with the Kingston Land Trust on this project. We share a vision of our community having affordable housing, as well as open green spaces for all to enjoy. We are excited to begin this first, of what we hope will be many, projects together,” says Ulster County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Christine Brady LaValle.
- The Kingston Land Trust is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that protects, creates access to, and activates land for the common good in and around Kingston, NY
- Ulster County Habitat for Humanity is part of a global nonprofit housing organization that brings people together to build homes, communities and hope
- Open Space Institute is a conservation organization that seeks to preserve scenic, natural and historic landscapes for public enjoyment, conserve habitats while sustaining community character, and help protect the environment
- For more information on the Kingston Greenline, visit kingstonlandtrust.org/initiatives/kingston-greenline
- Read more about construction of the Kingston Point Rail Trail at kingston-ny.gov/kingstonpointrailtrail
KLT Executive Director Julia Farr with Ulster Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Christine LaValle holding the property survey of the at the closing of the Gross Street parcels.
2018 view of the Gross Street property from the Pathway to Knowledge (between Rondout Gardens Public Housing and JFK Elementary School) with Kingston Point Rail Trail construction and Iglesia Amigos in the background.