Saturday, October 23, 2010

Owasco River Trail - City awarded grant to study feasability

Local newspapers are reporting this week that the City of Auburn has been awarded a grant to study the feasibility of building an Owasco River trail from Downtown Auburn to Owasco Lake. The grant of $590,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation will be used to hire a consultant to begin the planning for a multi-use trail.

The idea for this trail goes back over 40 years and has been studied several times. This idea has always excited me as a great recreation idea for our community. So I took a few minutes this morning to dig back in my files and find some history on the idea. The first reference I found to an Owasco River plan goes back to 1954. The next was the 1968 Master Plan for Emerson Park that referenced development of recreational areas along the river north of the Emerson Park. In July 1971, the Cayuga County Planning Board published a development proposal which included a plan called "Rediscover the Owasco River". In 1972, the board published a more detailed proposal entitled the "Owasco River Plan. I am not sure what happened with that plan, but I believe it remained on the shelf for another 20 years.

In 1996, The Owasco River Alliance was formed by several community leaders. The purpose of this group was to promote tourism and recreational development along the Owasco River. The idea was to start with the 1972 plan and update it to meet the ideas of the community. In the end, I believe funding became the obstacle to the progression of this effort, although I think this groups efforts helped to drive funding for the rebuilding of the seawall and bridges in Emerson Park.

These recent trail efforts have been an outcome of the development of the City of Auburn's Comprehensive Plan. The plan was a community wide effort to come up with ideas and plans for future development desires of Auburn residents.

We have a great start already with the seawall and rivers trails all the way north to Auburn High School. It would be great to develop bicycle/walking trails that would allow us to enjoy the river from downtown to the lake. Presently, my wife and I "cart" our bikes to Onondaga Lake Park, the Erie Canal trail east of Rochester or the old Erie canal trail between Manlius and Rome to enjoy these types of trails. We typically enjoy a meal and visit local shops while on these trips. It sure would we be nice to stay and spend  in our own county as well as enjoy Auburn's "hometown" beauty.

I really hope that this time, the Owasco River trail from Auburn to Owasco Lake becomes a reality. I know OWLA will be behind the effort 100%. What do you think? Please let us know by posting a comment here.

- Lakeman

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