Rail-Trail Fears Fail to Materialize, Support Grows for Phase 2

Posted 02/27/13 by Jake Lynch in Building Trails, Success Stories

The highlights of this news story courtesy of the Leader Herald out of upper New York state speak volumes by themselves, so let's just have at it, bullet-point style:

  • Fifteen years after the completion of the first stage of the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville (FJ&G) Rail-Trail in Fulton County, officials are working to build the rest of what will be a 22-mile pathway. 
  • When the first phase of the rail-trail project was being constructed, local land owners blocked the extension because of fears of negative impacts. After 15 years of the heavy use on the first section, that opposition has vanished. "I think the attitude has changed," says Mayfield Supervisor Rick Argotsinger. "From the feelers that have been put out, I think there is support to get the trail done." 
  • Gloversville Supervisor Marie Born says landowners may be more willing to negotiate now that the first phase of the trail has been built, and its utility proven.
  • The trail has been a large recreational draw, says county administrative officer Jon Stead, noting visitors frequently park at the county's tourism information booth in Vail Mills just to use the 2-mile stretch between Broadalbin and Vail Mills. 
  • Gina DaBiere-Gibbs, tourism director of the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, says she's excited about the potential a finished rail-trail could bring to the region. The trail would allow cyclists to easily link up with the Erie Canalway Trail and the Path Through History initiatives, she said, hopefully drawing tourists. "With trails like that it's easier to bring people into Fulton County to ride their bicycles and stop at attractions and spend their money," she says.

Despite the evidence of hundreds of rail-trail projects across the country, we do still see communities' trail ambitions stalled by the fears of local landowners that a trail will bring crime and public safety issues, reduce property values and negatively impact quality of living. While we have not seen these fears come to fruition, what we do consistently see is opponents later becoming supporters, neglected, underused areas becoming vibrant, valuable public spaces, and property values and quality of life indicators increasing. And so it goes. 

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