Area Residents Support Busti’s Plan For Bike Trail

BUSTI- There was an outcry of support for the Busti Bike Trail at Monday’s meeting.

Residents from not only Lakewood and Busti spoke up about it, but residents from Ashville and Bemus Point came to the town board meeting to show their support for the creation of a trail.

Les Johnson, a Hunt Road resident, said a bike trail would be a huge asset to any town or village. Kenneth Lawton, Busti councilman, handed out an economic impact study of the 2013 Trail Survey of Erie to Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. In the study, it highlighted 158,507 annual users and a $7,479,348 economic impact – $6,928,620 of which directly impacts the local economy.

Patrick Johnson, of East Terrace Avenue, said he was a cyclist who traveled great distances – as far as South Carolina – to ride on trails. The trail he made a particular mention of was the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, S.C.

“The first year the trail was opened, most businesses reported increase of sales revenues from 30 percent to as high as 85 percent,” Johnson said, quoting a study done by Furman University in Greenville, S.C. “In the second year, five new businesses opened because of the trail.”

Other residents spoke up in favor of the trail, saying it would have tremendous health benefits, and mentioned residents – especially those who do not own a car – could use the trail to get to work and school.

“From a public health perspective, you probably read this weekend, we have one of the worst health outcomes in the state in this county,” said Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller, healthy communities consultant for the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services. “There are a lot of people that only bike and walk where they feel safe doing that, and I think that there are some major health benefits to a bike trail.”

The path would be 10 feet wide along the tracks on the lake side with a fence built to separate the two paths. The fence would be a 4-foot high, vinyl-coated, chain-link fence from Cummins to Wal-Mart.

“We are not sure if that is what is going to be required or not,” Lawton said at the March 17 meeting. “It may not be that expensive of a fence; it may need to be higher.”

Currently, hikers and walkers tend to cross railroad bridges that are active due to the fact that they look safer and more structurally sound.

The preliminary cost estimate is $2 million. There would be a land-acquisition cost, and the lease would be for 17 years. However, there is a Transportation Alternative Program grant which is a match grant of 80 to 20 percent. This means money will need to be raised somewhere, with the town being responsible for $400,000 for the project.

A pass-through fund has been established at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to support the project. The Busti Bike and Fitness Trail Non-Endowment Fund will serve as a depository for monies raised to construct a multipurpose, non-motorized trail through the town of Busti.

Individuals and organizations interested in making a donation to support the trail may do so by mailing a check to the Community Foundation, 418 Spring St., Jamestown, NY 14701. Donations may also be made online by visiting crcfonline.org. For more information on the fund, contact the foundation at 661-3390.

The board approved the motion to apply for funding for the Busti Bike Trail, which the board suggested to call it the “Busti-Lakewood Bike and Fitness Trail” as to not sound exclusive.

In other news, the board approved Melvin Peterson to attend the highway school from June 2-4 at Ithaca College and authorized any board member, clerk, highway superintendent, planning and zoning board members, court clerks, town justice and code enforcement officer to attend the Southern Tier West Local Government Conference at Houghton College on May 7.

Tim Young was appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals and Jamie Gustafson, Ellen Barnes, Joe Troche were appointed to the Board of Assessment Review for a temporary one-year term.