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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2011

SCHUMER PUSHES TO CONNECT WALKWAY OVER THE HUDSON TO DUTCHESS RAIL TRAIL; URGES CSX TO FINALIZE AGREEMENT WITH DYSON TO PURCHASE LAND AND CREATE PREMIER NYS BIKING-WALKING TRAIL


Dyson Foundation’s Purchase of 12.5 Acres Would Connect Walkway Over the Hudson With 25-Mile Dutchess Rail Trail

Walkway Over the Hudson Has Drawn Nearly 900,000 Visitors and Has A $25 Million Economic Impact on Hudson Valley; Connection to Dutchess Rail Trail Would Boost Those Numbers

Schumer: CSX, Dyson Should Come To An Agreement Quickly to Bring Premier Bike-Walking Trail to Hudson Valley and Boost Walkway Tourism

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer wrote a letter to CSX President Michael Ward, urging CSX to promptly make a deal with the Dyson Foundation to purchase a 12.5 acre parcel of land in Poughkeepsie, NY. Dyson Foundation intends to use the property to connect the Walkway Over the Hudson with 25 miles of the Dutchess Rail Trail. The Walkway over the Hudson bridge has already received nearly 900,000 visitors, making it the second most popular park in New York state. Connecting the Walkway over the Hudson with the Dutchess Rail Trail will only improve the tourism to the region, driving job creation and greater economic development in the Hudson Valley.
 
“Connecting the Walkway Over the Hudson to the Dutchess Rail Trail is a match made in heaven that will make an enormously successful project even more popular, so I urge CSX to promptly finalize an agreement with the Dyson Foundation, which has made an offer to purchase the property that can link the Walkway and the Dutchess Rail Trail,” said Schumer. “The negotiations have lasted long enough, and it is time for an agreement so that Hudson Valley residents, and visitors by the bucketful, can benefit from a premier bike and walking path, while providing an economic boost to tourism, tax revenue and jobs in the region.”
 
The Dyson Foundation is currently offering to purchase a 12.5 acre parcel CSX property in Poughkeepsie, NY, which would allow the Walkway Over the Hudson to connect to the larger Dutchess Rail Trail. The parcel of land is currently an unused and inaccessible property that links the Walkway to the Dutchess Rail Trail at the Morgan Lake Trailhead. When connected to the Rail Trail, the Walkway will connect and provide access to over 25 miles of rail trails in Dutchess County and across the river to the Ulster County rail trails. The purchasing negotiations have lasted for more than a year, and Schumer states in his letter that the agreement must be made swiftly so that tourism in the area can have the opportunity to grow from this project.
 
In 2009, the Dyson Foundation, acting through the Walkway Over the Hudson organization, purchased approximately 4.5 acres of unused rail bed from the CSX corporation. At Schumer’s urging, CSX granted a temporary easement while negotiations continued in order to ensure that the construction project to provide street access to the Walkway could be completed by the start of the New York quadricentennial celebrations. Thanks to the easement, street access to the Walkway was completed in October 2009, in time for the events. The property was immediately donated to New York State Parks.  Since its opening, almost 900,000 visitors have walked the bridge, making it the second most popular NYS Park. The Dyson Foundation now hopes to make this second phase purchase to fully connect the Walkway Over the Hudson to the 25 miles of Dutchess Rail Trail.
 
Schumer states that CSX and the Dyson Foundation should move quickly and come to an agreement regarding the sale of the 12.5 acre parcel of land which would connect the already popular Walkway Over the Hudson with the 25 mile Dutchess Rail Trail. This would make this biking and walking trail a premier New York state tourist and recreation spot, while providing an economic shot in the arm to the Hudson Valley region.
 
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to Mr. Ward appears below:
 
March 24, 2011
Dear Mr. Ward:
 
I write to express my support of CSX’s efforts to work with the Dyson Foundation to reach a deal on the purchase of CSX property in Poughkeepsie, NY by the Dyson Foundation. This sale would allow the Walkway Over the Hudson to connect to the larger Dutchess Rail Trail, creating a unique tourist destination that would bring visitors and dollars to the Hudson Valley.
 
The Walkway Over the Hudson is an engine for local economic activity. Since it opened in 2009, the park has brought in 835,000 thousand visitors and generated an estimated $25 million dollars in economic activity. Connecting the Walkway to the Dutchess Rail Trail would make this single destination into one of the longest biking and recreational trails of its kind and a unique tourism destination for the entire Hudson Valley and the State of New York.  The Walkway has transformed the City of Poughkeepsie into a destination, allowing local businesses to flourish during an economic downturn and I am confident the extension of the Walkway to the Greater Rail Trail will only increase economic activity in the region.
 
The property in question is a 12.5 acre parcel which connects the Walkway Over the Hudson to the Dutchess Rail Trail at Morgan Lake. As I understand it, the Dyson Foundation and CSX are currently engaged in negotiations over the sale of that property. CSX could contribute to local economic development and job creation and help to substantially improve the quality of life for all residents of the Hudson Valley and the millions of tourists who will visit the Walkway.
 
I urge CSX to continue discussions with the Dyson Foundation to reach a deal that will allow the development of the Walkway over the Hudson into one of the premier biking trails in the country.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, and if you have any questions or need further information please contact my Washington, DC office at 202-224-6542.
 
Sincerely,
 
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator 

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