Effort to buy acreage around popular Albany-Vooheesville hike/bike path


October 29, 2020

Rick Karlin

Oct. 28, 2020Updated: Oct. 29, 2020 9:37 a.m.

NEW SCOTLAND  — A local conservation group is close to raising the money needed ensure preservation of nearly 200 acres of an historic farm that surrounds much of the Albany-Voorheesville rail trail used by hikers and bicyclists.

By acquiring the property, members of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy would be able to protect the forest land that surrounds the western portion of the popular trail, and potentially add more mountain bike paths.

We’re very close to the deadline,” Mark King, MHLC’s executive director said Wednesday, just prior to an Oct. 29 deadline to secure the purchase under an existing option to buy the land.

If they don’t get the nearly $50,000 needed to act on the option, though, King says he is confident they can still acquire the land, which has been on the market since 1971.

The overall price of the land hasn’t been made public but King said their fundraising goal is $1.2 million, which would cover some additional costs.

The site of what was a large melon farm, the acreage surrounds a good deal of the western, or Voorheesville/New Scotland portion of the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail, more commonly known as the Albany-Voorheesville trail.

The paved 9-mile trail running from Albany’s South End to Voorheesville runs almost entirely through wooded areas as well as some farmland. It has proven popular with walkers, runners, bicyclists and even roller bladers – especially so during the current COVID-19 pandemic which has kept some people away from gyms and has created an increased demand for outdoor recreation.

What we immediately saw was all these people walking,”  Charles Kruzansky, a member of the MHLC board of directors, said of what happened on the trail soon after the pandemic erupted last spring.

Part of the land near the intersection of Routes 85 and 85A, was the center of a contentious fight in 2008 when a Central New York developer wanted to build a 1.5 million-square foot mall that would have been anchored by a Target or Walmart store. That plan died amid heavy community opposition.

But in recent years, a number of new housing developments have cropped up along the trail, especially on the western end.

“This would protect it,” said Kruzansky. “Without the protection ultimately you’re going to have more houses close to it,” he said.