Rockland County will use federal funding to promote healthy living by creating a 21-mile nature path.
Officials envision a trail for bicycling and walking that will meander through multiple communities and down along the Hudson River from Rockland’s southern tip in Palisades to the northern rural sections of Stony Point.
The federal American Rescue Plan will pump $1.9 trillion into states, localities, businesses and more to spur economic recovery from the pandemic. Rockland received an estimated $5 million.
Rockland’s shared-used path is geared toward promoting healthy activities, education and boosting the local economy.
The path also is intended to integrate communities, invite visitors to learn of Rockland’s culture and history, provide additional modes of transportation and highlight environmental sustainability.
“One of the many hardships we faced during the pandemic is the toll it took on the mental health of our residents,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said. “That is why we are utilizing some of the American Rescue Plan funds to invest in the well-being of our families by creating more green spaces they can benefit from for generations to come.”
The concept for a shared path concept came into being after county officials noted a significant increase in bicycle riding, walking and running in Rockland’s parks by residents and community members from surrounding areas in the Hudson Valley.
Rockland officials conducted a community health assessment that identified an increase in physical inactivity among many residents and chronic diseases − high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. These poor health traits were attributed to vulnerability during the pandemic and severe housing problems.
The county is conducting a feasibility study on the costs of the trail. After the costs are determined, the county will design plans.
Using the American Rescue Plan Act funding, the county, through theRockland Resilient Recreation Grant Program, will award municipalities and nonprofits between $5,000 and $200,000 for public urban green-space investments.
Rockland officials said potential projects include but are not limited to:
- active parks
- passive parks (gardens, open play areas, picnic areas, sitting areas, etc.)
- paths to connect existing green spaces
- community food gardens
- multi-use green infrastructure (stormwater basins, rain gardens, etc.)
- community beautification projects
In a separate open space endeavor, Rockland has dedicated a $10 million fund for its Open Space Acquisition Program. The county received 16 property nominations and wrote the owners to ascertain if they were willing to sell their properties to the county for preservation.
Rockland rated seven properties in accordance with Open Space Guidelines. Six properties were recommended to Day, and offers were made to purchase four properties. The County Executive’s Office is withholding the properties and costs pending the finalization of the sales.