WESTFIELD - A multi-use trail that would connect Lake Erie at Barcelona to Chautauqua Lake at the Chautauqua Institution was the topic of a public input session at Eason Hall in Westfield.
The Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development, the Westfield Development Corporation and Pashek Associates presented information to the public about the trail, the planning process, and next steps for development. They were also there to listen to the public. About 60 people attended.
Deputy Director of the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development Mark Geise provided the background to and the rationale for the project, saying it was one of the top ten priorities in the Chautauqua County Greenway Plan.
OBSERVER Photo by Diane Chodan
Mike Kotyk of Pashek Associates from Pittsburgh, Pa., explains some of the features in the area where the multi-use trail could be constructed. Pashek Associates was hired to conduct the feasibility study for the project.
"We want to establish Chautauqua County as a destination for outdoor recreation and active living," he said.
Ideally, the trail will combine elements of history, nature, and recreation potential which planners hope will translate into favorable economic impact for the area and its businesses.
Joel Seachrist, representing the Westfield Development Corporation, spoke about the how the area figured into our national history beginning in the late 1600s when France and England struggled for supremacy in North America, through the railroad and trolley car era.
Pashek Associations wanted responses to three major questions about the trail: What are your thoughts wishes and desires? What are your concerns? What questions do you have?
Pashek employee Mike Kotyk spoke about the current conditions in each of five sections of the trail using a map. Employee John Buerkle set some ground rules for a brainstorming session.
He asked each person to be clear and concise, speak about one item or concern, and not debate the issue. Buerkle simply wanted to list the ideas. Each person was given an index card on which to write during a short break.
After the break, Buerkle went around the room, asking each person to relate one item. Staff recorded each item on an easel size tablet.
Property owners voiced concerns about their rights. Some of these included: loss of privacy and increased noise; increased litter; dog evidence; liability of the property owner; interference with current activities and crops; whether rights of the property owner would be respected; destruction and littering; rules for use and enforcement of those rules. Others items focused on usage of and amenities on the trail: a brochure of the history, signage, an off-road trail to encourage family use; good descriptive information; adequate parking and restrooms; access points for the trail, maps available with advertising for near-by businesses; and preserving wildlife. Other items mentioned were an increase in taxes because of upkeep; what the return on investment is; and having a plan to deal with emergencies and work with local first responders
According to Pashek Associates' employee Lisa Miller, letters were sent to those people whose property might be impacted by the trail. Some owners received a follow-up phone call. Fliers were put up in the communities through which the trail would run and local newspapers received a press release.
The next public meeting will probably be held in late summer or early fall. Those who were notified by letter will receive a letter. A Facebook page was created at www.facebook.com/BarcelonatToChautauquaInstituteMultiUseTrail and those who want to stay informed were advised to like the page.
Those who attended the meeting were asked to fill out a survey form and turn it in. Those who would like to complete a survey online may do so at www.surveymonkey.com/s/5WNB6P2
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