Today’s hope came in the form of a discussion between county executives, the United Methodist Church’s “Midtown Rising,” and residents of midtown. We were gathered together to discuss plans to build a linear park in the City of Kingston as well as other greenways. The meeting’s main speaker was Mike Hein accompanied by Kenneth Crannel (Deputy County Executive)
Greenways and rail trails are ways to take unused paths and turn them into safe travel routes. It would be easy to think of a linear park as a city-wide park tour, a place where people can exercise, or a place where people can just enjoy. But at the same time you can think of a linear park as an economic asset to our city, an opportunity to turn this city into a better place!
For example, improved travel routes from New York City improved business here in upstate New York. So on a smaller scale the linear park is expected to do the same in Kingston.
For some people the linear park will mean getting to work or school more efficiently; perhaps riding a bike instead of driving or walking the linear park instead train crossings. So the are energy conservation as well safety benefits to the linear park. Safety benefits also enable bikers to ride free from the threat of street traffic.
Walk-bound commuters will also be able to transport children away from the danger of streets traffic. Finally, anyone who travels the linear park will experience a connection with nature.
As a certified health fitness instructor and nutritionist I also would like more than anything to see a linear park in the city of Kingston. I agree that it would boost the city’s attractiveness and help people to become more physically active. This area does have plenty of rail trails (Hurley Rail Trail, The Hudson Valley Rail Trail, The Walkway Over the Hudson in Highland) but it’s interesting that it took till now to erect one in one of the densest areas in Ulster County…Kingston. It’s very exciting!
The boundaries of the park were not outlined in this meeting, however the linear park will connect the Rondout with midtown and the Stockade districts, enabling the entire city to take on a uniform identity and strengthen is unitarian brand.
Hein emphasized the importance of midtown’s involvement in the project saying, “People have to demand the project in order for it work.” As Hein gave his presentation I considered times when government officials would NOT have made presentations with people in less affluent communities. We would not have been invited to speak, vote, or contribute. Decisions would have been made in the absence of us.
I felt that the presentation was a great opportunity to be involved with the process of implementing the linear park. I believe that we should take opportunities to influence actions that will become a part of the future and of this city’s history.
The atmosphere at the United Methodist Church was accommodating for the inspiration in the air. For example, Pastor Kelly, who is the pastor of the church proclaimed, “The government is us so we need to love them and give them some time.’ indicating that residents should be patient in the midst of county-wide progress.
Hein said, “I believe if you can do something special in a community, a community can embrace it.” A resident of midtown confirmed, “We are going to believe God to make the changes He wants to make.”
Continuing, Hein talked about the surge of redevelopmental energy needed to shift major events in a city. I think the county executive’s faith stems from his own experiences with seeing things happen. He has both seen and been an instrument of change. causing many healthy ventures to start including initiatives for Ulster to be the healthiest county in New York State.
Hien shared stories of what it took to get the Shokan Reservoir to the point of being open to the public. The area around the reservoir had not been available to the public, all the way supplying New York City with the majority of its drinking supply. But after many years and millions upon dollars of investments, the Shokan Reservoir is one of the most beautiful areas that can now be attended by people from all walks of life.
So it takes a mutual shift among 183,000 people, an outcry in order for a thing to change. It takes faith to get people to agree with political leaders, especially when their perceptions of political leadership is less than perfect. However I would argue that we are all still being perfected so let us look towards salvation.
During Biblical times the prophets, priest, scribes, kings, worship leaders, churches and families had to come to a mutual consensus in order for big things to happen. For example, some Kings made a “decree” (an official order issued by legal authority) whenever they believed that their service had come under the will of God.
And at that point is when world-changing events took shape. Not only that, but with the help of God behind it. It was when people worked with the government as the government came into recognition of God’s pre-eminence that sure actions could be ignited.
From the re building of the House of God in Jerusalem to the reparations of the city walls (by Nehemiah), we have the finest examples of what revitalization is all about. The governors and kings sent workers and captains to begin doing the work but they also provided them the resources to get it done. And they took heed to the word of God’s servants concerning consecration and the reading of the law, prayer, and daily sacrifices during the construction period…it didn’t happen without the Lord!
Continuing, Hein talked about how the location of new developments plays a role the ability for certain communities to benefit from them. Hein pointed out how neighborhood delis (also known as corner stores) typically have higher prices for less healthy foods.
Going to health food stores along highways would not be feasible via bike or walking based on the current travel-ways. Again county representatives see a need for the midtown community to demand change.
Another resident of midtown and member of United Methodist Church applauded the efforts of the church and stressed the importance of “listening to the people to find out what is really needed.” Some residents discussed problems with health and safety on current play grounds including playground materials not optimal for health and safety.
Others discussed concerns over programs such as Meals on Wheels which might not be “individualized” enough for seniors. However Hein had redirected funds to a local entity and expects significant changes in the programs take place by August of this year.
Later in this discussion of Kingston revitalization arose the topic of education. There are plans to install a community college in inner-city Kingston. It would be a prime example of using “accessible locations” as a way to improve the availability and opportunity of important resources to be made available to all.
In the end I believe it will take a move of God in connection with the actions of government to bring forth long-standing change. People will only be able to get involved when they are given the resources and inspiration to do so. The meeting concludes with a resident of midtown who tells her story of why she wants to make a difference. Her reasons involve the spreading of the message of Christ for the improvement of her community. The county executive said, -Amen! Might we all say, -Amen!!