Lewis County planning ‘rails to trails’ project

Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 5:53 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - A master plan presented to Lewis County officials for its ‘rails to trails’ project calls for taking old rail lines and turning them into paths for walking, snowmobiling or ATV’ing.

Alta Planning & Design did the work for the county, at a price of close to $600,000.

“We’ve said from day one that this a project that is going to take many years, it’s a long term project and we need to have a plan, and we need to make sure that that plan fits with community expectations,” said Ryan Piche, county manager.

Alta presented the county with plans for managing he trails, figuring out the cost, and getting public feedback on the project.

The project has its skeptics.

Lifetime Lowville resident Robert Tiffany said he’s afraid the trails will get misused by people who drive all terrain vehicles and snowmobiles.

“People from out of state, out of town who don’t necessarily have any connection to the community, disregard laws, and it just creates chaos,” Tiffany said.

Instead, Tiffany said he wishes there was a way to bring the railroad system in the county back to life.

“Rejoin these tracks back to Utica, they connect in Lyons Falls which is only 15 miles away and the tracks still exist going to Carthage,” he said.

Meanwhile, county manager Piche says a vital part of the planning phase is community engagement.

“The plan that we put forward for the next several years needs to be reflective of what the community is looking for,” he said.