Efforts for Seneca River Trail continue

The Town of Lysander will continue efforts to construct a planned portion of the Seneca River Trail, the town board decided at an Aug. 17 work-session held to determine the trail's future.

Lysander will seek easements and right-of-ways that would allow it to construct a piece of the trail running from the edge of the Village of Baldwinsville to Barbara Lane. It will also ask the Federal Highway Administration whether it can modify a $485,000 grant so that the federal money can be used for that portion of the trail.

"The board very clearly does not want to cross Barbara Lane at this point," said Supervisor Barry Bullis. "They want to finish up to Barbara Lane and put it on the shelf and wait for things to improve."

The federal grant, which was awarded nearly eight years ago, was originally intended for two phases of the trail, Bullis said. The money was awarded for both the first planned segment of the trail stretching to Barbara Lane and a second segment that would run from Barbara Lane to Long Branch Park.

"Eight months ago, we heard from the Federal Highway Administration that they would not allow the town to proceed with construction for phase one until they had a design and right-of-way for phase two," Bullis said. "We weren't planning to do it that way. This enforcement of an obscure rule has really created a problem for us."

Lysander has been working for approximately seven years to meet design and right-of-way requirements for the first phase of the trail, Bullis said. Since then, the estimated price tag for the two trail portions combined rose from $600,000 to $1.3 million.

The first piece of the trail would cost approximately $400,000 for the township to build on its own, Bullis said. That means the town would likely face a larger financial commitment if it accepts the federal grant and commits to both portions of the trail than if it rejected the money and uses its own funds to build the first portion.

"We can't afford your money," said Councilor Edward Reed.

The town board does not plan to formally vote on the matter. At its Aug. 9 meeting, the board also decided not to vote on a measure that would have frozen town spending on the trail extension.

That moratorium, proposed by councilor Arthur Levy, led to the special work session.

"We want to complete construction of the Seneca River Trail," Levy said at the work-session.

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