CLAYTON — The Thousand islands Land Trust plans to break ground on an extension of its Sissy Danforth Rivergate Trail to connect it to the village in late summer.
After about three years of planning, Executive Director Jake R. Tibbles said the trust has begun seeking the necessary permits to turn its Rivergate trail into a seven-mile recreational pathway from the LaFargeville Agway, 20410 Route 411, to the village. A portion of the trust’s trail from Black Creek Road to LaFargeville is open to the public.
The hiking, biking and cross-country skiing trail would run through the village south along a portion of the old New York Central/Penn Central Railroad bed, over an old trestle bridge across McCarn Creek, which the trust needs to restore to open to the public, and past wetlands, grasslands and forest. Mr. Tibbles said the trust wants to connect its rails-to-trails project to the village’s Riverwalk along Riverside Drive. It may also build observation decks and wildlife viewing towers along the trail.
“Really, the focus of this project is to have it be a community project,” Mr. Tibbles said.
Building the trail over the next two to three years and maintaining it is expected to cost the trust at least $500,000.
Mr. Tibbles said the nonprofit has raised a little more than $100,000 and plans to secure additional federal and state grants and private donations. The group plans to seek help from the Clayton Local Development Corp. to secure funds to connect its trail to the Riverwalk. It also wants to establish an endowment for a seasonal maintenance worker.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation awarded the trust a $41,750 grant in 2016 for topographic surveys, structural evaluations and concept drawings.
“We are looking toward volunteers, the community and our partners to assist us with creating the trail,” Mr. Tibbles said. “TILT will not be able to complete this project itself.”
The conservation group also faces another hurdle it needs to leap over to create its trail: the village’s zoning ordinance.
Mr. Tibbles and Assistant Director Spencer T. Busler met with couple of town councilmen, Richard A. Ingerson, the zoning and code enforcement officer for the village and town, Mayor Norma J. Zimmer and Douglas E. Rogers, chairman of the joint Town and Village Planning Board, to learn more about the permitting requirements for the trail.
Mr. Ingerson said the village has no zoning regulations to address trails, and TILT’s project would pass through five zoning districts in the village alone. Planning officials will discuss the issue with the village’s attorney, Joseph W. Russell of Barclay Damon LLP.
Mr. Rogers said that the village may be able to amend its law to include regulations for trails, adding that the joint town-village comprehensive plan supports trail development.
“Not a soul in this town would be anti-trail,” he said. “I mean, that’s for the greater good.”
The trust would need a special use permit to develop its trail on land outside of the village in the town, Mr. Ingerson said. Lee J. Shimel, zoning officer for the town of Orleans, said he believes the project would not require Orleans Town Planning Board review unless the group wanted to erect any structures.