MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua County Greenway Plan won't be sitting on a shelf collecting dust anytime soon.
In fact, the comprehensive plan nearly two years in the making at a cost of $50,000 already has five projects slated for implementation or review.
"The last plan we had was so old but it was so instrumental," said Mark Geise, county Planning and Economic Development deputy director. "... This new plan is to ensure Chautauqua County is a destination for outdoor active living and recreation."
OBSERVER Photo by Eric Tichy
Mark Geise discusses trails outlined in the Chautauqua County Greenway Plan, which has just recently been released. The county is already looking at five projects discussed in the plan.
The 162-page Greenway Plan was first mentioned in the county's Comprehensive Plan, dubbed Chautauqua 20/20. Before that, the last detailed study conducted by the county regarding its greenways was in 1968.
Set to be officially unveiled during a special gathering in Mayville in August, the Greenway Plan has identified 39 "corridors" throughout the county to develop, enhance, or improve recreational greenways. The corridors are broken down into three categories: exceptional, significant and high priorities.
"This is pretty comprehensive," Geise said. "There's a lot here."
Asked how he would recommend delving into the plan, Geise said, "I would tell somebody to start at the third chapter where we discuss what we plan to do to get things done. If they wanted to start somewhere, that is where they should."
County Executive Greg Edwards said the Greenway Plan should pay dividends to the county, and noted that many projects not yet announced to the public have already been started.
So it's unlikely, he said, the plan will be thrown on shelf with other discarded studies.
"Well I think over the years many of those plans that have sat on the shelf are typically required of the state," Edwards said. "The ones we are involved with locally, including the Comprehensive Plan, have paid off many times over."
He continued, "Many have already expressed excitement for the Greenway Plan, and it hasn't even been officially released. ... I'm grateful for the effort that has been put into this."
In addition to areas of interest alluded in the plan, 10 projects have been identified as "high priority demonstration projects," five of which are currently being studied.
During numerous public meetings held in September, Geise said, residents were asked to rank the projects based on impact on the community, ease of completion, potential for impact and value of healthy living.
Projects currently being assessed include:
Overland Trails maintenance improvements, and includes the assessment of the existing maintenance and management of Chautauqua-managed trails. The project also makes recommendations for future maintenance and management improvements.
East- and West-side Overland Trail loops. Geise said he is currently discussing the loops for the trails, which was first brought up in the 1968 greenway study. The project would create short loops at both ends of the East- and West-side Overland Trails.
"Right now when you get to the end of the trails you have no nothing to do but turn right around and go back," Geise said.
Chautauqua Institution to Barcelona Harbor Trail. A massive connection plan to link numerous communities and parks along new and existing trails. A greenway in Westfield would allow residents and tourists to travel from the village to Barcelona Harbor and Lake Erie Shore to the village of Mayville.
Growing mountain biking in the county. "There is a lot of activity with mountain bikers in the county," Geise said. "They are their own little niche within our community and we would love to expand that."
The county, as detailed in the Greenway Plan, may look to expand current bike trails while developing another six to eight miles of trails.
Equestrian trail system expansion, which would build on the planned network of trails in Cherry Creek.
Geise said he plans to formally present the Greenway Plan to the legislature's Planning and Economic Development and Public Facilities committees before discussing it with lawmakers during their full-body meeting.