What’s Next for ECRT in Orchard Park

 

Lots of ECRT supporters are asking “what’s next” as a result of the controversial Orchard Park Board meeting on October 7 2020, so let’s bring you up to speed.

 

In a nutshell, the Orchard Park Town Board voted on October 7 on a “Resolution of opposition to the conversion of the abandoned Buffalo & Pittsburgh rail bed for use as a recreational trail“, an agenda item that was added the day before without adequate notice. Despite the short notice and concerns about crowd safety, dozens of trail supporters came to the meeting, and many spoke passionately and eloquently on behalf of the trail, voicing concern over how this resolution was handled. Only two spoke in opposition, and yet Supervisor Patrick Keem, in his final meeting, and Councilman Gene Majchrzak voted in favor of the opposition resolution, stating that ECRT never shared a plan. ECRT provided the Town Board with an 86-page strategic plan in 2019, along with 241 letters of support. It’s important to note that Councilman Conor Flynn voted against the resolution and shared why in this FaceBook post. Read the full story in the Orchard Park Bee.

 

What does this mean for the future of the trail in Orchard Park? Here are the facts:

  • THANKS! First off, ECRT would like to thank all of our supporters who attended the meeting, spoke on our behalf and sent letters to the Town Board both before and after this meeting. This vote, while disappointing, has galvanized our supporters, increased awareness of trail and passion for this important community asset. We have overwhelming support in Orchard Park and your voice matters!
     

  • ONWARD and UPWARD: The vote cannot and will not change our plans to build this trail. The 27-mile inactive rail line is privately owned by the railroad. This property has been federally designated for use as a recreational trail by the Surface Transportation Board. Its use as a trail is pre-empted by federal law and local regulations designed to frustrate use of the corridor as a trail are also pre-empted.

 

  • THE REAL DEAL: The only thing this vote could potentially do is discourage funding to provide further enhancements and mitigations to the trail.
     

  • CHECK IT OUT! In August, in response to public need for more access to safe outdoor spaces, ECRT opened a picturesque 2-mile section of the trail in Orchard Park from Ellicott to Jewett Holmwood Roads for local residents. That section is still open and can be accessed from either end of the trail. Today, this is a rough, unfinished trail that is best used for walking, hiking and mountain bikes.
     

  • EYES ON IT: We have patrollers and trail cameras on this section. We’re seeing about 100 people per week enjoying the trail. Many are adjacent homeowners who say they are loving it!
     

  • HEADS UP: ECRT sent a letter to the Town Board in May notifying them of our intentions to open this section. We also notified local police and fire responders before we opened, and posted trail rules at both ends of the trail. 
     

  • PLAN ON IT: ECRT is working on a design plan with Alta Planning and Design, a national trail design company, and GoBike Buffalo who is leading an effort to build the 80-mile Southern Tier Trail. A trail study by the two companies is expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.
     

  • WHAT’s NEXT IN OP: Our first priority is to continue to improve the open 2-mile section. Now more than ever, we can use your help! Please consider donating at www.ecattrail.org.

 

Thank you for your support!

 

The volunteer team at ECRT

*For more information on the Orchard Park section that has opened, please click here.