A $6.4 million grant from the foundation set up after the death of longtime Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson will benefit trails in Western New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, along with $4 million in state funding. The money will support ongoing improvements to the Niagara Shoreline Trail and the Genesee Valley Greenway, which connects Cattaraugus through Monroe counties.
"This support from the Wilson Foundation, coupled with new state funding, will help repair, enhance and expand recreational opportunities on these multi-use paths in two beautiful parts of Western New York, which Ralph Wilson loved so much," Cuomo said. "His legacy will strengthen tourism, increase safety for bicyclists and hikers, and further revitalize communities that are better connected."
Cuomo said the two projects will also strengthen significant connections to the Empire State Trail, 750 miles spanning from Buffalo to Albany and from New York City to Canada, creating the longest multi-use state trail in the nation. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.
Projects totaling $4.1 million are planned for the Niagara Shoreline Trail, including a 1-mile new trail south of Lewiston and a study on how to close gaps in the trail from Lewistown to Lake Ontario, and to evaluate how to repair an impassable section of the Niagara Gorge Trail known as the Talus Slope.
Joan Schumaker, president of the group Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway, said the money will help resurface a recreational trail between Rochester and Avon.
“Essentially most of our trail is all cinders in the railroad and a lot of grass and therefore it’s not conducive to a lot of trail users and it’s very bumpy sometimes, so essentially having a new surface is going to bring the quality of the trail up significantly,” Schumaker said.
Schumaker also said it is hoped that improvements to these trails will also give an economic boost to the communities along the trails.
“Help the communities by increasing tourism and maybe working with them also to upgrade the things that trail users need, so that they’ll be welcoming to the trail users and obviously attracting more of them to their businesses and to their communities,” Schumaker said.
Other improvements that will be done with the funding include disability access improvements at Greenway Bridge at Mt. Morris near Letchworth State Park and improved signage on the trail.