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Recreational Trail: From Potential to Reality Leaders Meet to Begin Planning Process

by Eva Potter

The mental cogs have been turning energetically inside the creative minds of local leaders since the last Ellicottville Town Board meeting in July when board member Ken Hinman brought forth the idea of building a community recreational trail. Now, this potential is quickly moving toward becoming a reality.

On Aug. 7, Hinman invited a small group of area leaders and businessmen to discuss and gauge the level of interest in moving forward with such a trail project. He also asked Joe Higgins, who spearheaded the design, development and construction of the Allegheny River Valley Trail (ARVT) in nearby Allegany, N.Y., to address the group and share his insights.

Also in attendance were: Charlie Coolidge, mayor of Ellicottville; Kathleen Moriarty, attorney for the Town of Ellicottville; Dennis Eshbaugh, president of Holiday Valley; Bonnie Koschir, vice president of Holiday Valley; Dave Riley, general manager of HoliMont; Debbie Stein, director of information technology at HoliMont; Jack Kramer, bicycling enthusiast and member of the Village of Ellicottville Planning Board and Zoning Board; Jennie Acklin, editor of the Ellicottville Times; and Eva Potter, assistant editor of the Ellicottville Times.

All expressed a committed interest in seeing this project move forward.

Hinman said, “I am so pleased to have you all here today. It shows me that there really is a genuine interest in the potential of (a recreational trail) project in the Ellicottville area.”

He recognized those in attendance for taking the time out of their busy schedules to attend. He also thanked Moriarty for volunteering her services for this project, and mentioned his gratitude to Ellicottville Town Engineer Mark Alianello for his assistance.

Ellicottville fares very well when compared to similar resort communities in the Northeast and even many in the West, many of which boast countless miles of scenic, paved multiuse trails. Adding a recreational trail is a tremendous and exciting opportunity for Ellicottville to enhance its four-season amenities already offered by similar resorts – amenities that visitors have come to expect from such vacation destinations.

At the meeting, Eshbaugh expressed enthusiasm about the project.

He said, “From our perspective (Holiday Valley), we’d like to work in any way we can to help make the (trail) happen. I think it’s a great idea and it’s also something that would be wonderful to see in the community.”

In addition, safety concerns for road bicyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts have resurfaced with the arrival of the Centurion road cycling event next weekend. Because the Ellicottville area has no “off-road,” traffic-free routes, the concept of a recreational trail has recently garnered attention as a way to provide another recreational outlet for area residents as well as welcomed guests.

Higgins said there is a lot of preparation to be done before such a project can take flight. He attended the meeting primarily to share his experiences and to help steer the group into the next phase of the project, providing valuable insight on various aspects of trail building including how to initiate a study, how to determine trail placement, the importance of intermunicipal agreements, liability concerns, environmental stewardship, landowner approvals, cost projections, constraints, access points and parking areas, grassroots support, identifying funding sources and more.

Hinman said two of the most important aspects of this project are working respectfully with landowners and identifying sources of funding, such as grants and fundraising. He said these issues will be addressed promptly, including the identification of money-saving resources from local entities and experts, and the possibility of partnering with a professional firm to develop a trail plan.

Trails have proven advantages of providing safe recreation for families, friends and people of all ages including children on tricycles, adults on bicycles, handicapped individuals in wheelchairs, babies in strollers and senior citizens on foot. Additionally, they provide easy access to exercise for better health, personal enjoyment of the outdoors and even as a traffic-free, eco-friendly way to commute to work, school and local businesses.

Higgins said the ARVT is the “most used public facility in the area,” used by citizens, visitors and many fundraising groups that hold organized walks and runs on the trail. He said, “These things (trails) get used. It’s constant year round.”

What you think about the construction of a recreational trail in the area? We welcome your input any time during this project. Please send your comments and concerns to jennie@ellicottvilletimes.com.

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