Marge Mohn chuckled a little when she started explaining what a recently received $10,000 grant will do for a proposed Fort Ann-to-Whitehall trail.
“We want to make sure the trail is on track,” she said, dropping the pun “on track,” then explaining it would be used to have a professional consultant examine the plans developed by a committee headed by her and Fort Ann Town Board member Gretchen Stark.
“It’s feasibility study. We want to make sure we can do it,” said Stark, who has been working on the project for several years. “Right now, we have a trail going south on the old towpath for about 3 miles.”
The grant will go to the Arts and Recreation Commission of Whitehall, Inc., but will be used to plan a trail to connect the two towns. Mohn said the trail will be on the east side of the canal, because there are two many inlet that would require bridges on the west side.
Long-range plans call for a trail along the Champlain Canal from Waterford to Whitehall. At Waterford, there is a connection to Cohoes, which leads to the Erie Canalway Trail, which will eventually run to Buffalo.
The local grant was among 22 that went to communities and organizations in the Mid-Hudson Valley and Capital Region from the $254,000 2016 Greenway Conservancy Trail Grant Program. The awards are matching grants, requiring the communities to put in funding or in-kind work.
Stark said it is her understanding that the Canalway Corp. will bring the trail up from Fort Edward to Route 196, and eventually there will be a connection there to Fort Ann and on to Whitehall.
Funding is going to be needed for a lot of that work, and Mohn said the grant will allow a consultant to prepare “a document that is more professional than we amateurs can do.”
“We also want to make sure we are correct in what we are doing,” she added. “I am not an engineer. It needs to be looked at by a pro.”
The projects are designed to improve public access to natural and cultural resources, and better connect communities throughout the Hudson River Valley.
“These trails are pathways to the Hudson River Valley’s unparalleled natural beauty and outdoor recreation,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press release. “This funding will help to ensure these trailways remain well-preserved and accessible so that residents and visitors alike can enjoy these natural treasures for years to come.”
The Greenway Conservancy Trail Grant Program is administered by the Hudson River Valley Greenway, with funds from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund.
“Quality trails offer four-seasons of recreation for all who live and visit our great state,” State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said in a press release. “Thanks to these grants, we will better connect people to the Hudson Valley’s spectacular scenery, while improving the quality of life and lifting the economies of host communities
“I think this trail will open tourism for the county and for the whole area,” she said, noting the currently designated trail is on Route 4. “That’s a dangerous place to tell people to ride bikes.”