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Erie-Cattaraugus Rail Trail celebrates five years

SPRINGVILLE — The Erie-Cattaraugus Rail Trail organization held its fifth anniversary event at The Buffalo Ski Club, in the town of Colden, on Sept. 28, from 1-5 p.m.

“There are 6,000-plus community advocates from the areas of Orchard Park, Aurora, Colden, Concord, Springville and Ashford,” said Deborah Fenn, vice president of the ECRT board. “We appreciate the supporters of these communities, for their ongoing effort of the organization to secure the right-of-way on the 27-mile former rail line, which spans these communities.”

Fenn noted that the Buffalo & Pittsurgh Railroad, which owned that stretch, was last operating approximately 20 years ago.

“The ECRT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit community-based organization that is working to improve the quality of life and encourage economic development in the Southtowns. We do this by transforming an inactive rail line into a multi-use recreational trail,” Fenn said, of the organization’s mission.

“In 2008, when B&P Railroad wanted to end rail service on this corridor, both [New York state] and ECRT expressed ‘rail banking’ as a minimum trail use interest. Both applications were accepted by the Federal Surface Transportation Board. For 5 years, ECRT supported the state’s preservation interests. When New York state did not move forward, they agreed to step aside and let ECRT negotiate directly with the railroad,” Fenn explained.

“As desired by the railroad, ECRT formally entered direct negotiations in May of this year. We are now in the process of the surveying and inspection of property appraisal, all necessary acts which go into acquiring property. The result of these undertakings will directly impact the nature of our acquisition agreement with B&P railway.

“Of course, this will take time and money. The ECRT funding is primarily from its own members, but we are also reaching out to potential partners and businesses, for their added assistance,” she added.

The vice president also noted that the trail construction will not “result in an increase in town or personal responsibility, or an increase in insurance premiums. The towns and villages carry insurance that covers all municipal property. A pedestrian trail has no increased risk, relative to the activity on other properties, and would have no impact on the cost of municipal policy.”

She cited the Springville Rail Trail Winter Walk on the B&P Railroad as one example of a community event that was included on the municipality’s insurance policy, at no added cost.

The ECRT’s board president, Anne Bergantz, of Orchard Park, was on hand to lead group discussion and debate about the trails.

“Your taxes should not increase, as a result of trail development; the railway trail is already in place,” Bergantz said. “Emergency service is already being provided. In general, trails require little maintenance, at a very small cost. It is ECRT’s intention to work with local communities to create the type of trail and maintenance program that works best with the community.”

In addition to discussion about the trail and ECRT, the event also featured a performance by Dan Duggan, national hammered dulcimer champion, and his wife, Peggy Lynn.

Cider making, face-painting, a scavenger hunt, a video of ECRT’s mission and complimentary food and beverages were also available. The event was free to all supporters.

For more information on the ECRT or to become a member, visit www.ecattrail.org, email info@ecattrail.org or mail inquiries to P.O. Box 584, Orchard Park, N.Y. 14127.


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