Lewis County lawmakers poised to vote on controversial rails to trails purchase

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 5:31 PM EST
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Lewis County’s controversial rails to trails proposal is headed for a vote next week.

It would cost the county $2.5 million to buy land with old rail tracks.

The plan is to turn those rails into outdoor recreation trails for running, biking and ATVs.

According to County Manager Ryan Piche, the goal is to improve community health.

“It is imperative that we invest in opportunities for folks to get outside, enjoy the beautiful community we have and make more healthy choices for their lifestyle,” he said.

During a meeting held Tuesday evening, citizens voiced their concerns which ranged from trail security to historic preservation.

Laurie Halliday works with the Railway Historical Society in Croghan. She says that turning rails into trails would mean destroying an important piece of north country history.

“Once that history is gone, it’s gone forever. It’s one thing to read about it to ride the rails, to experience what life is like being an engineer or a railroad worker,” she said.

Also in opposition are landowners like Joanne Dicob. Railroad tracks are on her property.

“I believe that it’s going to be mostly ATVs and that’s the noise. We won’t be able to have our windows open during the summertime and people don’t play by the rules,” she said.

The Lewis County Board of Legislators votes next Tuesday on whether to move forward to buy the railroad land for redevelopment.

The final vote is on November 22.