Visions of moving the Village of Goshen forward with New York Forward

Goshen. New York Forward is a state grant program that provides funding to small municipalities via competitive applications that describe plans to be funded. Planner Kirsten O’Donnell presented the Village of Goshen plan that focuses on Heritage Trail connectivity.

| 21 Sep 2022 | 10:55

Complementing the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, referred to as DRI, is the newly launched New York Forward grant program, created to invigorate downtown areas in New York State’s smaller and rural municipalities. Whereas, the DRI is aimed at revitalizing large cities, Forward is directed at enhancement of smaller townships, villages and hamlets.

Announced by Governor Kathy Hochul, New York Forward is following the same procedure as DRI’s plan-then-act method; municipal planners apply for the grant by submitting a plan, and then act on that plan. When a municipality is awarded a NYS Forward grant, it will be assigned a consulting team by the Department of State to guide them through the process.

In speaking at the Sept. 12 Village of Goshen Board meeting, Kristen O’Donnell, Village Planner with Lance & Tully Engineering in Campbell Hall, said the village is hoping to be awarded a $2.5 million grant. She outlined a plan for village use of the grant.

When completed, the revitalization plan is to be submitted to one of NYS’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils that will have the option of recommending that two communities receive $4.5 million or three communities divide funding, so one receives $4.5 million and two receive $2.25 million.

At the village public information session, O’Donnell outlined the plan for the village. The plan includes improving the connectivity of the Heritage Trail that follows the right-of-way of the former Erie Railroad, running through the Village of Goshen. The 18-mile trail from Middletown to Harriman is used for walking, biking and rollerblading. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.

The section of Heritage Trail that runs from Chester, past Trailside Treats Creamery and Bruen Avenue towards the village, stops at the sidewalk on Greenwich Avenue. This requires users crossing Greenwich Ave (Route 207) and W. Main Street to continue on the trail heading towards Middletown.

O’Donnell noted that signage on the other side of the roads is unclear, causing confusion among users, especially non-residents, as to where to pick up the trail to continue walking or biking.

The purpose of obtaining the grant is to improve trail continuity for users, as well as direct foot traffic to the downtown business district to support economic development. At present there are two access points to the Heritage Trail from W. Main Street: from the rear of senior housing Northgate Manor on Railroad Ave. and from lower W. Main Street (Main Street Extension). Both access points have obstacles, such as a gate at the senior housing site, no trespassing signs, and close proximity to homes that add to user confusion in finding the trail to continue walking towards Middletown.

A village gravel easement to the trail at lower W. Main Street isn’t well defined. “Better delineation as to where the public is allowed to go is needed,” O’Donnell explained, adding that the village is evaluating acquiring more property to make a more visible trailhead.

O’Donnell listed other funding targets: improved lighting, street stripping, better signage, and additional benches that are included in the grant application. Trustees discussed upgrading Bruen Park by running a water line there and installing a water fountain and possibly a bathroom that would service trail users as well as children using the playground, and new playground equipment. Village Police Chief James Watt suggested installing security cameras along the trail.

“The Village has an excellent chance of getting the grant,” said O’Donnell, “because our plan meets every objective of it.”

The purpose of obtaining the grant is to improve trail continuity for users, as well as direct foot traffic to the downtown business district to support economic development.