Connecting people living along the creek to the surrounding city, each other, and nature.
A driver of industry
Streams like this provided a source of food and fresh water for the region’s first inhabitants, members of the Wappinger, a confederation of Algonquian-speaking people. Called the Val-kil (Fall Creek) by Dutch settlers, the waterway fueled the city’s emergence as a center of industry, first powering grist and lumber mills and later factories that manufactured everything from pianos and underwear to cigars. Simultaneously, it became a toxic spillway and dumping ground.
As its usefulness to industry began waning in the 20th century, the winding watercourse was channeled to allow for new development. Many of the stone and cement walls currently lining its path were built during the 1930s. In addition to severely hampering safe public access to the creek, this has led to devastating flooding during extreme storm events.
A shared vision
Regular volunteer cleanups hosted by local organizations have done much to improve the natural beauty and vitality of the Fall Kill Creek. Efforts also are underway to reduce ongoing pollution that poses a major public health threat and impacts the stream’s remarkable variety of wildlife. Focus is also being directed to the impacts of a changing climate on the area, including increased severe storm events and flooding. The Fall Kill Watershed Coalition works collaboratively to both study the creek and listen to community members’ priorities to create a shared vision and action plan for the Fall Kill Creek.
A community asset for transportation, learning, and health
To address the community’s desire for a safer, more inviting environment for families, children, and neighbors, we are exploring the concept of a greenway along Fall Kill Creek, creating new, welcoming places to enjoy the waterway and its biodiversity. The Fall Kill corridor holds potential to provide outdoor education opportunities for children and adults alike.
FAQs (frequently asked questions)
No, construction will take place in phases, beginning with restoring public lands along the creek, such as Malcolm X Park.
A mix of public and private support.
Probably not, at least initially. Because of private property along the creek, portions of the trail corridor will have to follow adjacent streets and sidewalks. Along with this and other initiatives along the Fall Kill, efforts are underway to make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. These may include new crosswalks, landscaping, and traffic-calming measures.
The vision includes providing places for public access to the shoreline for fishing, hands-on lessons about wildlife and water quality, and enjoying nature. The creek’s relatively shallow depth and swift current, combined with ongoing pollution (see next question), make it unsuitable for swimming.
Fall Kill Creek is listed as a “Class C” stream on the New York State Priority Waterbodies List, meaning it is safe for fishing but not swimming. Significant problems in the creek include high levels of contaminants and nutrients (nitrate, phosphate, sulfate, heavy metals, hydrocarbons), high temperatures due to sparse tree coverage, and deficient oxygen levels. All impact public health and are a hazard to wildlife.