KERHONKSON – Now that the Colony Farm in Kerhonkson is no longer in operation, Wawarsing resident John Adams feels that it might serve as a bridge that would effectively join Minnewaska State Park Preserve to the Vernooy Kill State Forest. To that end, Adams, along with members of the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference, took part in a hike this past Sunday in order to highlight and promote this idea. Adams, who was recently appointed to the Environment and Conservation Commission for the Town of Wawarsing, feels that the expansion of trails in the Wawarsing area would give hikers and bikers a reason to come to Wawarsing, thereby enhancing tourism in the area.
"We'd like to show people that the Colony Farm land is a potential trail," Adams said. "Now that the prison no longer uses it, and the inmates are not out here and security isn't an issue any more, it's state-owned land that could be made available for recreation."
The Colony Farm had in recent years served as a dairy farm at which inmates from the Eastern Correctional Facility would work. But the state canceled this program last year and the farm has since been leased out. Given the farm's location and overall footprint, it could act as a kind of final piece to a larger jigsaw puzzle which could ultimately interlock a number of adjacent, protected lands.
"We think it would be helpful in bringing tourists to our town," Adams says about the farm's potential.
Adams says that, with the addition of a trail from the Vernooy Kill State Forest, this would create a "loop" that would hookup with other trails and logging roads in the area thereby creating a circular path.
In addition to the trails, Adams wants to see the farmland preserved as open space. Adams says that he has been in touch with at least one organization that specializes in the preservation of open spaces, and that he may turn to this type of organization when it comes to surveying the land.
Adams also says that the Town of Wawarsing Environment and Conservation Commission on which he serves had recently drafted a letter to the Wawarsing Town Board urging town elected officials to endorse the project and to send a letter to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) requesting that the DEC's master plan for the area include such a trail.
At the moment, according to Adams, the land is zoned as "rural" but this designation could be changed to "planned industrial" which would turn the land over to light industry. It's all up to the town board and the planning board to decide on the fate of the property.
"Even though it's zoned rural, it sounds like it's protected, but it's really not," he says.
Adams also says that at the county level there is currently no protection for the land.