The Hudson River Valley Greenway Act of 1991 created a process for voluntary regional cooperation among 264 communities within 13 counties that border the Hudson River. The Greenway Act created two organizations, within the executive department, to facilitate the Greenway process: the Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council and the Greenway Conservancy for the Hudson River Valley. The Greenway Communities Council was established to coordinate with local and county governments the development and enhancement of local land use planning techniques and the creation of a voluntary regional planning compact for the Hudson River Valley. The Greenway Conservancy is a public benefit corporation that works with local and county governments, regional, local, private, and public organizations, and individuals. The Greenway Conservancy coordinates efforts to establish a Hudson River Valley Trail system, promote the Hudson River Valley as a single tourism destination area, assist in the preservation of agriculture, and strengthen state agency cooperation with local governments. The Greenway organizations provide technical assistance and funding for these community planning projects. Greenway community planning projects can be undertaken by a single community to address local issues or a group of communities working together to address both local and regional issues.
Interested communities can pass a resolution supporting the Greenway criteria, thereby qualifying them for Greenway technical and financial assistance. Typical grants under the "Greenway Communities Grant Program" range from $5,000 - $10,000, with greater financial assistance available for projects involving two or more municipalities. To date, 22 of the 24 Rockland municipalities have signed on as a Greenway Community, as well as the County of Rockland.
Greenway Communities in Rockland County:
The Greenway planning approach is one of thinking regionally as communities plan locally. It includes physical connections and linkages between communities for local and regional benefit. Additionally, it extends beyond physical linkages to encourage voluntary regional cooperation among the communities and counties of the Hudson River Valley to address issues of collective concern and promote mutually beneficial regional approaches.
The Greenway Compact program takes community planning one step further by providing a process for voluntary regional cooperation to further the Greenway criteria of natural and cultural resource protection, regional planning, economic development, public access, and heritage and environmental education. For communities that choose to participate, a variety of financial and procedural benefits are available.
Counties have been designated by the Greenway as the basic planning areas for the development of a Greenway Compact Plan, although sub-county associations of local governments may also be able to prepare a regional planning compact. Each county's regional planning compact should address the Greenway's five criteria, as well as incorporate provisions that identify areas that have regional impact or concern, or which are necessary public facilities and infrastructure consistent with the Greenway criteria.
The voluntary participation of municipalities in county Compacts preserves local decision-making authority while providing expanded opportunities for regional cooperation. Public and community participation in the development of a county Greenway Compact Plan is critical to their success. Greenway Compact Plans reflect the concerns of local communities and provide a regional context for local planning efforts. In January 2012, at the Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council quarterly meeting, Rockland County's comprehensive plan, "Rockland Tomorrow" was adopted as Rockland's Greenway Compact Plan.