On this Friday, we went to New Paltz, a historic town and home to SUNY New Paltz. We were escorted by sociologist and deputy mayor of New Paltz, KT Tobin. New Paltz felt like a small college town trying to enter the small city game. KT talked extensively about the developing plans within New Paltz and the importance of setting up sustainable methods of transportation as New Paltz continues to grow.
We started at the Village hall, just down the street from the school. As we made our way across town, we came across many SUNY New Paltz students. They were hipster college students, but they had a wider range of style than Vassar students. We also couldn’t help but notice the vast difference in how the town of New Paltz and its students interact vs. how Vassar students interact with Poughkeepsie. The town was clearly geared to the SUNY student and students were clearly proud to spend time there. There were tons of boutiques and hiking stores as well as small restaurants.
This trendy vibe coincided with historical buildings and sights which demonstrated the presence of an older population alongside the young college student.
Our primary stop was an empty lot about a half mile from where we started. This may not sound like much, but Tobin was so excited by it. She talked extensively about the plans the town had to build a 4 story net-zero building there. While Tobin and many others were excited about the project, she also described the reaction of many long-term residents who believed that this presence of modern architecture would disrupt the otherwise historic feel that New Paltz holds. This seems symbolic of a common conflict between the contrasting citizens of the city.
We took the historic Wallkill rail trail back to where we started. The rail trail is a 22-mile long trail that runs through the Hudson Valley. Although things are modernizing and building around it, the trail remains intact and a popular tourist attraction. This demonstrates yet another collision of modern demand and preserving historic locations. One could argue this is the perfect point at which tourism can bloom- where people can be treated to the beauty of years past while enjoying all of the amenities expected in the modern world.
Next on the agenda, we went to Mohonk Preserve a giant chunk of land publicly maintained but originally privately owned. It is home to many outdoor activities but what we prioritized was the rock scramble. The rock scramble was a large mountain of boulders that one could climb to access a beautiful view of the entire Hudson Valley. While Zahra ambitiously aimed for the top, Sarah took one look and decided to explore the surrounding area instead. Here are some fun pix:
As you can see, the view was incredible but so was the entire preserve. One could have easily spent an entire day just exploring the vast expanse of nature at Mohonk. New Paltz was a fun and versatile area with lots to do for all sorts of people with all sorts of interests! We can’t wait to visit again! See ya next time, #es291!
Zahra and Sarah