by Eva Potter
After the July 18 meeting of the Ellicottville Town Board, it became very evident that a recreational trail in the area would be of great benefit to residents and visitors alike, after board member Ken Hinman presented the idea of a bicycle and walking path.
With Ellicottville’s strong focus on fitness and healthy living, a recreational trail could add another facet to Ellicottville’s tourism draw while providing residents with another fun, outdoor means of enjoying the area’s beauty and changing seasons.
Jane Eshbaugh, director of marketing at Holiday Valley, concurred, “Personally, I think it is a great idea and our residents as well as the visitors to our region will surely make good use of a path for running, walking and biking. At Holiday Valley, we like the concept and can’t wait to hear more about it.” She said her husband Dennis, president and general manager at Holiday Valley, was contacted by the Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty and he agreed to support the concept.
“I don’t see how this is a ‘lose’ for anyone,” he said. “Personally, I’ve been riding my bike around here for 30 years and I don’t see how this is anything but a step in the right direction.”
Benjamin Clauss, president of the Western New York Mountain Biking Association (WNMBA), said WNYMBA is working with the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce to better market and advertise mountain biking in the Ellicottville area. Discussion also included the possibility of better access to beginner trails.
Clauss said, “I think the addition of beginner-friendly trails would help to make Ellicottville appeal to all types of mountain bikers. Also, the bike path could create a significant amount of ride-in, ride- out lodging, which would appeal to mountain bike tourists.” He said that a trail such as this would have the added benefit as a riding option that isn’t weather dependent like mountain biking along rugged singletrack paths.
Dave Riley, general manager at HoliMont, said HoliMont members have experience with recreational trail building and that he’d be happy to facilitate the connection of these parties with a trail committee. With the project in its infancy and approaching the exploratory stage, Riley said would happily to coordinate the resources HoliMont has to get behind this.
He said, “I think it will help Ellicottville and I think it will help HoliMont. It adds another summer activity. It adds another reason for people to come down and entertain themselves here.”
Although it has been postponed, Riley said the New York Department of Transportation is planning to put in a sidewalk connecting HoliMont to the village, which could provide trail users access to the resort. “The key is to give (users) a place to recreate, so to speak, that’s part of the community,” he said.
A few tentative routes have been bandied about, but final determination will hinge on many factors including funding, sponsorships, grants, location and design, and landowner support.
Hinman said the notion of a recreational path was brought up some years ago but the project never germinated. This time, the concept is generating a great deal of interest, and Hinman is working on forming a small committee, including management from Holiday Valley, HoliMont and a few others, to get an initial overview of the town and where a trail could potentially be placed.
Ellicottville Mayor Charles Coolidge weighed in with a big thumbs up. “I think it’s a fantastic idea. I think the village would be more than happy to go in with the town on a project such as this,” he said.
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