This past week a Buffalo News Editorial supported the development of B&P rail corridor into a multiuse trail. The Editorial referred to the opening of the Springville section — the 1.8 mile Springville Pop Warner Rail Trail — as the proof that a rail trail is the proper use of the “abandoned” 27 mile rail line that runs from Orchard Park to the Town of Ashford.
Springville opened its trail because it had community financial support, village government support, and a right-of-entry agreement with the B&P. Currently the B&P is negotiating a “railBanking” agreement with Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail, a non-profit organization devoted to the preservation and reuse of the 27 mile corridor. Negotiations are moving ahead, with both parties committed to executing a contract.
With these developments, it is time for the Town of Concord, the Town of Colden, the Town of Aurora, the Town of Orchard Park and the Village of Orchard Park to move forward with plans of developing a multiuse trail.
It takes time to plan the design and use regulations of a proposed trail. It takes time to secure the funding for construction, and to amend local code for maintenance and enforcement. Public input meetings are crucial. On site visits to mitigate concerns of safety and invasion of privacy are necessary. So beginning the process now would be a prudent step in the right direction.
Springville formed committees to investigate the feasibility of a rail trail. Its trustee acted on a resolution to support the railbanking process. It formed the Springville Rail Trail Steering Committee to make recommendations to the Board of Trustees and collaborate with ECRT. Public events were held to gain information on how the public would use the trail and what designs might work the best. All this planning happened years before the right-of-entry contract was finally signed and financing and construction could begin.
Springville began the trail initiative in 2009 and the trail opened in 2016 — that’s 7 years — and we beat the average length of time for trail development which is about 15 years.
Southtowns communities should begin their planning now. It is the right thing to do. The preservation and reuse of the corridor for recreational use will enhance their own communities as well as all of Erie County. Careful and open planning of this worthy 21st century project will mitigate fears of change.