Poison ivy is considered a noxious weed in the eyes of the law, and village code specifically demands that property owners get rid of it. Most noxious weeds are aggressive invasive species, but this nasty stuff is a long-term local. The plant is only somewhat shade tolerant, and naturally exists as a ground cover in wooded areas or along the edges of forested tracts. Unfortunately, the poison ivy in New Paltz has found its niche in difficult-to-reach places or those that exist in some sort of legal limbo.
Toxicodendron radicans. This plant's defense mechanism makes me certain that the Universe has some kind of plan, and it's a plan that includes a touch of sadism. It can take several days to develop a poison ivy rash, and it spreads from the most sensitive areas which touched the plant to the least over a period of time. The worse cases can lead to painful, oozing blisters; the fluid they weep does not spread the rash but it looks and feels horrible.
Identifying poison ivy can be tricky, because not only does that plant have different forms, the leaves aren't always the familiar almond shape.
In New Paltz, poison ivy grows in places far and wide. Most residents make a sincere effort to get rid of the stuff, at least when it's close to the sidewalks. Many people don't want to use chemicals on it, and they don't provide a guarantee that you'll get it all. On residential property it's very fond of hosta patches, under bushes growing on retaining walls, and anywhere the homeowner may not notice it or would have a difficult time reaching the stuff.
The only solution I've seen to the New Paltz poison ivy dilemma was suggested by Jason West: send in the goats. It's safer than chemicals or hand-pulling, and more effective than either. I've heard several suggestions about where to obtain these goats for free or for money, and even contacted one of the farmers, but I haven't confirmed that anyone is enterprising enough to hire out their goats. If there is, I sure think New Paltz could keep them busy.