Communities join forces to expand trails system
Eventually, bicyclists may be able to pedal from the farthest reaches of Ontario County across the state without ever leaving a trail system that offers views of hills, valleys, streams and wildlife.
While communities like Victor, Canandaigua and Farmington have undertaken their own trails improvement and extension projects in recent years, now, in a rare collaboration, a few municipalities have joined forces to extend one of the region’s most popular multi-use trails over six miles.
The hope is to bring the just-over nine-mile Auburn Trail from its westernmost point in Monroe County beyond its current end at County Road 41 in Farmington. The plan is to extend it about six-and-a-half miles into the city of Canandaigua, where it will tie into the Ontario Pathways trail system.
The Auburn Trail would then link not only to Ontario Pathways, but also the Erie Canalway trail system, the Genesee Valley Greenway and the regional Lehigh Valley Trail, to name a few. It could also eventually link to the Finger Lakes Trail system in Geneva and its environs.
It would be possible for someone to travel on trails from the village of Phelps to Olean, Cattaraugus County or from Canandaigua to the Erie Canal in Bushnell’s Basin to Albany.
“It’s a missing link in the regional and statewide trails system that is designed for both recreation and health benefits,” said Farmington Director of Development Ron Brand, who is heading up the project. “It’s also a major economic engine from a tourism stand-point.”
The feasibility study is being overseen by a 15-member committee appointed by the Farmington Town Board, which is serving as the lead agency. On the committee’s recommendation, the board voted this past Tuesday, March 22, to hire the Rochester-based engineering firm Fisher Associates to oversee the project’s study.
Specifically, Fisher Associates will determine the best way to extend the trail to the Ontario Pathways system in Canandaigua. The project study is being paid for by a $74,000 federal grant that Brand applied for in January 2010.
The grant won approval from the Genesee Transportation Council, which represents nine counties in New York.
Additionally, the towns of Canandaigua and Farmington along with the city of Canandaigua are each contributing $2,000 toward the total $ 80,000 project.
Fisher Associates will be guided by representatives from the two towns and the city, as well Ontario Pathways, Victor Hiking Trails, Inc., the town of Victor’s Recreation Department, the Ontario County Planning Department, the state departments of transportation and environmental conservation, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Genesee Transportation Council.
The study of the project is expected to commence late this April and be completed by the end of September 2012. During this period, there will be a number of public meetings held by the Project Steering Committee. There will also be public informational progress meetings and a meeting with all identified property owners.
The project committee will look at possible revenue sources including grant funding for the actual trail construction. Depending on the outcome of the study and availability of funding, Brand hopes to see work on the trail begin within the next three years.