Skip to main content

Public Invited to Enjoy the New “Marcus J. Molinaro Northside Line”
Dutchess County’s urban trail connecting community assets in City and Town of Poughkeepsie now open for 24/7/365 use

Published: 12/16/2023

Poughkeepsie… The first phase of Dutchess County’s urban trail project in the City and Town of Poughkeepsie is open for public use and touting a new official name – the Marcus J. Molinaro Northside Line (MJM Northside Line) – honoring Dutchess County’s seventh County Executive for his commitment to Dutchess County Parks and his service to the County. 

Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil announced the new name today at a gathering on the trail that included Rep. Molinaro, his predecessor, as well as community leaders and stakeholders –including Scenic Hudson, Walkway Over the Hudson, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Marist College – to celebrate a soft opening of the trail in the City and Town of Poughkeepsie and spread the word that the trail is now open for year-round use.

The MJM Northside Line is a 16- to 22-foot-wide, dual-lane pathway for pedestrians and cyclists stretching 1.2 miles from the new Hudson Heritage Plaza in the Town of Poughkeepsie to Parker Avenue (State Route 9G) in the City of Poughkeepsie. The trail connects many community assets, providing easy access between housing, jobs, schools, businesses, hospitals and parks. The trail features lighting and is monitored by security cameras and law enforcement patrols to enable safe, 24-hour use, and will be plowed, as necessary, during the winter months. Other amenities include secure bike parking, bench seating and bike-repair stations.

County Executive O’Neil said, “This trail is a fantastic new connection for residents, visitors and students alike. For those looking to save on gas, the Northside Line is a fast, safe path to bike or walk to work or school. And for those looking to get more exercise, this split-use trail is a perfect way to safely connect to our popular WRS Dutchess Rail Trail and the world-renowned Walkway Over the Hudson. Thanks to the vision and dedication of our own former County Executive, Marc Molinaro, as well as community stakeholders, we are proud to bring this new kind of trail – which will be open, lit and monitored 24/7/365 – to fruition.”

Initially known as the Dutchess County Urban Trail project, the MJM Northside Line was constructed along a former CSX rail line that was purchased by Scenic Hudson as part of its mission to increase public use trails throughout the county. Scenic Hudson transferred ownership of the property to the County in late-2019 and, following an extensive public outreach process that informed the final design in partnership with Scenic Hudson, construction began in mid-2022. Construction of the spur between Parker Avenue and West Cedar Avenue was completed in 2022, with the remaining spur completed earlier this fall. The project, which totaled $11.6 million, was funded in part by federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars.

“We were proud to work closely with CSX to secure this land and then turn it over to Dutchess County - it is gratifying to see this project come to realization.   The Northside Line, going past our future Scenic Hudson headquarters and community space,  is so important to Poughkeepsie, providing an important link for the City’s northside neighborhoods and communities of color, where many households face economic challenges and do not have access to a household vehicle.  Being able to walk or bike to educational resources, recreation, groceries and more is vital,” said Seth McKee, Executive Director for The Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Inc. and Land Programs.

“Projects like this help close the ‘Nature Gap’ – a term coined by the Center for American Progress to detail the inequity and lack of access to open space in the nation’s cities – bringing open space into neighborhoods.    We are proud to continue to work alongside with the County, City of Poughkeepsie to bring open space into neighborhoods, by building climate smart infrastructure and ensuring equity and nature are front and center,” McKee continued.

As part of the event, the County also highlighted the City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department and its new Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV), which was acquired with funding from the County’s Municipal Innovation Grant (MIG) and will be used along the trail, among other areas, to assist with faster emergency medical response for trail users. To expedite response time, the vehicle is stored in a shed adjacent to the trail that was also funded by the department’s MIG award.

"We appreciate Dutchess County stepping up once again and delivering a Municipal Innovation Grant to the City of Poughkeepsie," said City of Poughkeepsie Fire Chief Joe Franco. "This grant has allowed us to purchase a vehicle that will be used to protect the safety and health of people, residents and visitors alike, who are using the rail trail and might require medical assistance. The Fire Department is grateful for the county partnership, and the timing is perfect, as the county expands the rail trail with a northside spur."

The trail’s new name provides recognition of the numerous contributions of Rep. Molinaro, who during his 11 years as Dutchess County Executive, championed historic investment and expansion of Dutchess County’s parks system. From improvements at Quiet Cove Riverfront Park, Bowdoin Park and Wilcox Memorial Park, to purchasing and developing properties such as Camp Nooteeming in Pleasant Valley, the Lake Walton Preserve in East Fishkill and the Northside Line. His staunch support of a wide range of recreational avenues for residents of all abilities fit his personal motto, “Marc’s for Parks!” From Heritage Financial Park, formerly Dutchess Stadium, to the more than 35 miles of rail trail spanning the county, Rep. Molinaro saw numerous projects to fruition, resulting in positive impacts on residents’ lives, creating connections and building opportunities.

Congressman Marc Molinaro said, "Introducing: the Marcus J. Molinaro Northside Line Urban Trail! Thank you, and what an honor. I was proud to have a hand in developing this linear park as County Executive and can't wait to see the connections it makes and potential that's now unlocked - for everyone of every age, background and ability.”

The potential next phase of the trail would provide an interface with the Marist College campus, providing connections to residential housing at One Dutchess as well as Upper Landing Park, Waryas Park and the Poughkeepsie Train Station along the Hudson River waterfront.

Marist College officials, including Marist College Executive Vice President Geoff Brackett and Tim Murray, Athletic Director, were also on hand for the event along with members of the Marist track program as well as runners from the Eastern Dutchess Road Runners Club.

According to Marist Executive Vice President Geoffrey Brackett, “This project will have a meaningful impact on all residents of the County, including the students, faculty, and staff at Marist, and is another example of the inclusive, forward-thinking, and well-executed planning by our county's officials.  Marist is proud to partner with communities throughout Dutchess County and excited to support initiatives like this that make our community better.”

While the trail is considered to be “substantially” complete, there are still finishing touches to be completed including installation of wayfinding signage and permanent, decorative safety railings.  A formal ribbon cutting event featuring family-friendly activities will be held in the spring of 2024.

To learn more about the Northside Line project, and other Dutchess County Parks including the County’s extensive system of rails trails, visit