Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus was selected from public officials across New York for the prestigious Public Leadership Award by Parks & Trails New York, a statewide parks and trails advocacy organization. The award was presented to the Executive last week as part of their 2007 Greenway and Community Trail Awards.
The Public Leadership Award recognizes those who have made significant and sustained contributions in support of planning, design, construction, management, promotion or public involvement for creation, public involvement in design, management and promotion of trails and greenways.
Parks & Trails New York is the only nonprofit organization working statewide to expand, protect, and promote a network of parks, trails and open spaces throughout the state for all to use and enjoy. The organization’s role in making this network a reality is to guide the development of local, grassroots groups and to foster partnerships amongst trail and park stakeholders.
“I believe the trails of Dutchess County are wonderful opportunities to connect with family, friends and neighbors. They are truly community parks. That is why we have worked so hard to develop our Comprehensive Parks Plan so we can continue to create and improve the trails of Dutchess County including our soon to be constructed Dutchess Rail Trail and the phase IV expansion of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail,” said County Executive Steinhaus.
According to Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Robin Dropkin, County Executive Steinhaus was honored for his ability to build consensus, develop alliances, and create the necessary critical mass to build trails that have had a profound impact on the quality of life within the county.
County Executive Steinhaus has launched multiple new recreational initiatives and environmental preservation projects and served as a strong champion for a countywide system of trails. Two major rail trail projects are in progress in the County – the Phase IV expansion of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and construction of the Dutchess Rail Trail, which is scheduled to begin within the next month. The first three phases of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail were built by the Steinhaus administration beginning in 1996 with the most recent phase opened by Steinhaus in 2007.
During the design phase of the Dutchess Rail Trail, County Executive Steinhaus hosted several public outreach sessions to share progress reports with residents. More than 500 residents participated in those community conversations and shared their feedback and ideas about the trail’s design.
“In an interview last year, Mr. Steinhaus told me the great thing about a trail is that it’s for all residents so it’s easy to galvanize many constituencies. But, we realize it’s not so easy. It takes a special brand of vision and leadership to create such an impressive track record as that obtained by Mr. Steinhaus,” said Ms. Dropkin. “He has provided a great legacy of trail and greenway options for county residents. That is why Parks & Trails New York has recognized the County Executive with its Public Leadership Award,” she added.
County Executive Steinhaus was recognized September 28, 2007, in conjunction with Parks & Trails New York’s two-day statewide trails and greenway conference, entitled Healthy Trails, Healthy Communities, held in Rochester.
“Rail trails add so much to the quality of life of our community. They provide wonderful recreational opportunities, keep families physically fit and help protect our environment by reducing automobile emission pollution. That is why we have made the creation of the Dutchess Rail Trail such a high priority,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.