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Governor Cuomo Announces Next Step in Plan to Build Hudson River SkyWalk

New SkyWalk Trail Will Link Two Historic Sites Across the Hudson River

Grant Money Will be Used to Fund a Feasibility Study; Planning and Design For New Project

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced the next steps are being taken in the process to build the Hudson River SkyWalk, a scenic pedestrian trail linking two historical sites across the Hudson River. A $124,000 grant administered by the Department of State through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program will be used to pay for the planning and design of the SkyWalk, and to develop an economic impact study for the project.

“The majesty of the Hudson River Valley is timeless and this project will build on the region’s natural, cultural and historical significance,” Governor Cuomo said. “The new SkyWalk Trail will give visitors and residents alike the unique opportunity to experience the region’s unparalleled natural beauty, while learning about its history and with this funding, we are taking an important step toward making this project a reality.”

The new SkyWalk will include pedestrian-friendly trails on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge that will link the Olana State Historic Site in the Town of Greenport, to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in the Village of Catskill. The NYS Bridge Authority is funding the renovation of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge as part of its capital program under Governor Cuomo’s statewide infrastructure investment plan.

As part of the Governor’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative, $124,000 was awarded to Greene County through the NYS Department of State’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, NYS Consolidated Funding, to develop a complete design, marketing and economic impact studies for the project. Once the studies are completed, the project will be eligible to apply for the next round of REDC funding to finance the construction of the Skywalk project.

“The Department of State continues to work with municipalities through the Waterfront Revitalization Grants to create more vibrant and economically developed communities,”said Acting Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “We will continue building such partnerships to help bring developments with projects such as the Hudson River SkyWalk to attract touristic and economic opportunities across the New York State.”

The Waterfront Revitalization Grant will be used to integrate the Bridge Authority sidewalk project into a larger plan that will lead to greater economic opportunity, increased tourism and better access to the two historic sites.

A $5.4 million project to replace sidewalks and railings on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge is currently underway. Railing work is expected to begin Summer of 2016 and sidewalk replacement work is expected to begin Fall of 2016. The sidewalk and railing replacements are funded through NYSBA.

Thomas Cole House and Frederic Church’s Olana
Thomas Cole (1801 – 1848) was an internationally known artist and generally recognized as the founder of the Hudson River School.

Frederick Church (1826-1900) became Cole’s only pupil in 1844. Olana is Church’s 19th century home and studio. The 250 acre historic estate features an elaborately stenciled, Persian-inspired mansion filled with original sketches, studies and paintings by one of the mid-19th century’s most famous artists.

Olana is a New York State Historic Site, owned and operated by the NYS Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Olana is also supported by the Olana Partnership, a private not-for-profit education corporation.

The Thomas Cole House, also known as Cedar Grove, is a National Historic Landmark and owned by the Greene County Historical Society.

The Greene County Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Planning is working in collaboration with the Town of Greenport, the Village of Catskill, Columbia County, Scenic Hudson, Columbia Memorial Health (as a private sponsor) and conservation and preservation groups to develop the plan.

NYS DOT is also in discussions regarding a pedestrian crossing at state routes 23 and 9G.

Bridge Authority Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero said, “Governor Cuomo’s support will help make this project a success for the entire Catskill-Hudson region. The Bridge Authority works hand in hand with Parks and preservation groups at all our bridges, the SkyWalk could be one of our highlights. ”

Senator George Amedore said, “This project is exciting for residents and visitors alike, as it will establish an important connection between two historical sites that play an integral role in the rich arts culture within the area. It will help spur economic development, and at the same time, give an enhanced opportunity for tourists and local residents to experience the history and natural beauty of the region.”

Assemblyman Peter D. Lopez said, “Strengthening the connection of tourism interests in the region, while also improving the quality of life, is a high priority for me. “My office has routinely pursued similar investments for local communities by coordinating state highway reconstruction with main street investment. This project is a common sense approach and we are eager to work with the Bridge Authority to see it move forward.”

Kevin Lewis, Chairman, Chairman of the Greene County Legislature said, “The Skywalk Project will bring new visitors to Greene and Columbia Counties providing an opportunity to support both the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and the Olana State Historic Site to advance the Birthplace of the Hudson River School of Art.”

Sean E. Sawyer, President, The Olana Partnership said, “The Olana Partnership is very pleased that planning for the Rip Van Winkle Skywalk project is proceeding. This project will make a direct pedestrian connection between Olana and the Thomas Cole House, making it possible for visitors and residents alike to actively experience some of the country’s most beautiful and historically significant vistas, whose stewardship is such an important part of our work.”

Betsy Jacks, Executive Director, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, said, “The Hudson River Skywalk project is a very exciting development on multiple levels: a breathtakingly beautiful view, an experience that connects two important historic sites – the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and Olana – and so many public and private partners united behind it. I was struck by how the “Walkway over the Hudson” in Poughkeepsie has dramatically increased economic activity there, exceeding all of their high expectations, and here we are with our very own walkway. What an incredible asset for the local community and visitors alike.”

Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson, said, “The Skywalk is an extraordinary opportunity to connect the homes and studios of two pioneering artists and the geographies of Columbia and Green Counties. This collaborative project, involving Governor Cuomo, the NYS Bridge Authority and numerous individuals and organizations, will create an inspiring pathway across the Hudson, while boosting the region’s economy.”

Columbia Memorial Health President and CEO Jay P. Cahalan said, “The Rip Van Winkle Bridge is both a structural and emotional link between the people of Columbia and Greene counties. It ties us to one another and makes us a single community, and the foundation of every community is good health. Columbia Memorial Health is therefore very proud to partner with Governor Andrew Cuomo, state and local leaders, the New York State Bridge Authority, Olana and the Thomas Cole House to help the Skywalk take flight, adding another element of beauty and heritage to our region.”

The Hudson River School
Originating in the mid-19th century, the Hudson River School focused on landscapes of the Hudson River Valley as well as the Catskills and Adirondack mountains.

In addition to Cole and Church, noted Hudson River School artists include John Frederick Kensett, and Sanford Robinson Gifford. Artwork by Cole, Church and other Hudson River School artists hang in museums and art galleries around the world.

The New York State Bridge Authority
The NYS Bridge Authority operates the Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson, Kingston-Rhinecliff and Rip Van Winkle bridges and owns and maintains the structure of the Walkway Over the Hudson Bridge.

The Authority is funded principally from bridge tolls and receives no state or federal tax monies for bridge maintenance and operation.

Compliments of Governor Cuomo