West Carthage asked to take ownership in Rails to Trails project

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 4:27 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - As the Lewis County Rails to Trails deal looks to stay on track, one part of the deal is having a Jefferson County village take ownership of its part of the railway.

Lewis County officials voted to buy 31 miles of old railways last week as part of their Rails to Trails project. Before things could be finalized, Lewis County got in touch with its neighbor: West Carthage.

“Lewis County reached out and asked if we would be interested in partnering with them as part of their acquisition of the rails,” said West Carthage Mayor Scott Burto.

“We met with them last week, and the plan is that we would turn over the assets in Jefferson County to them for their use, and we’d work together on trying to find grant funding and a future for the bridge project as well,” said Lewis County Manager Ryan Piche.

For Burto, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“From a West Carthage perspective, we’re very interested in taking ownership of the rail line into the village. Both those parcels connect to our waterfront. They provide us additional opportunities to expand our recreation here in the community,” said Burto.

He hopes the partnership can expand River Bend Park. However, there is one lay of land that Burto says Lewis County can keep: a trestle bridge that spans the Black River.

“The bridge is a big part of the acquisition for Lewis County. The village of West Carthage is not interested in owning the bridge. We are interested in partnering with them to find the appropriate agency to own the bridge and possibly seek some grant money to turn that into a recreational bridge,” said Burto.

“I think it’s an important piece of the puzzle. What I heard from our partners in Jefferson County was a willingness to collaborate and a willingness to figure it our as we go,” said Piche.

Although West Carthage does not look to seek ownership of the bridge, it’s vital because under it runs a natural gas line for West Carthage residents.