by Eva Potter
Ellicottville is widely recognized for its enchanting scenery, spectacular fall colors, warm hospitality, vibrant nightlife, interesting shopping and delightful restaurants. But most of all, it is known as an active outdoor adventure community.
Often compared to other resort towns in the Northeast and West, Ellicottville has earned a highly respected reputation as a four-season resort town, boasting a slew of recreational activities for young and old, single and married, athletes and not-so-athletic types. Skiing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, snowboarding, golfing, swimming, road biking, jogging, hunting, fishing, hiking … the list is long and varied – there’s something here for just about everyone.
There isn’t much missing except for a safe, traffic-free recreational trail that can be used for multiple purposes – think babies in strollers, joggers, cyclists, skaters and families walking dogs.
From a real estate perspective, Cathy Pritchard, a licensed associate real estate broker with ERA Team VP Real Estate in Ellicottville, knows what homebuyers are looking for when they buy a primary or secondary residence. She said people who come here are active and that she views a recreational trail as a real asset to the community and to homebuyers.
“The way I look at it, (trail access) enhances the value of their property,” said Pritchard. “Most people that come down here (to Ellicottville) are into fitness, recreation, and biking is so big right now. Walking is so big right now that we really do need something like (a recreational trail). Safety is another thing. It’s a real issue for every age.”
Glenda and Rick Jackson, owners of the Ilex Inn Bed & Breakfast, are very excited about the prospect of a recreation trail being planned in Ellicottville.
Ms. Jackson said, “We have many very active adults stay here at the Ilex Inn, hikers, both mountain and road bicycle riders, runners, and cross country skiers and snowshoe hikers. It would definitely draw more people to the area.”
Although the Jacksons expressed the need to keep the trail well maintained and clean, they said they “would love to have it come behind the Ilex Inn as well as a trail out to the Great Valley area, possibly tying into the Route 17 bike trail for cycling folks.” The Jacksons said they would definitely use the trail and suggested an accessible route through the village and “long enough to make it worth coming here to ride or walk it.”
Brian McFadden, executive director of the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, knows that tourism is one of the economic engines that powers Cattaraugus County. He said a trail would enhance the considerable offerings Ellicottville already has and would assist in marketing Ellicottville as an outdoor adventure community that already draws well over a million visitors annually and employs thousands in the hospitality industry.
“I believe a trail as proposed would become a great entry-level experience for mountain bikers and hikers who may otherwise see our mountain trail systems as somewhat intimidating,” said McFadden, but said he’d leave determining a location to the experts.
Town of Ellicottville Engineer Mark Alianello understands building a recreational trail is a “tremendous undertaking that will require a lot of cooperation and effort from essentially volunteers, and it will require developing a trust with landowners.” He said equal to increasing tourism is the importance of “adding to quality of life for our residents.”
Alianello helped with initial planning of the Pat Magee Trail and drew the plans for a short extension of the Allegheny River Valley Trail. He said, “These experiences have helped me understand some of the issues involved in assembling a trail system… I hope this can become a reality and I look forward to trying to help out as I am able.”
Pritchard summed up the sentiments of many when she said, “It’s exciting. I hope it doesn’t take that long (to build).”
The Times has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the community. We’d love to hear from you, too. Where should it go? What points should it connect? How long should it be? What are the pros and cons? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll print your letter to the editor (just sign your name and town).