December 21, 2012

In My Opinion: A trail on the right track

A little over a year ago, with Thanksgiving two days away and a snowstorm looming, workers took what was literally the last load of asphalt produced for the 2011 construction season and laid it down, linking a graceful S-curve path up a hill on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus to the swooping swerve of Steltzer Avenue.

Phase 1 of the Saranac River Trail, an idea more than three decades in the making, was finally complete.

And now, with the trail a full year into its useful life, the City of Plattsburgh can proudly call it an unqualified success.

For the past 13 months, city residents and visitors from all over Clinton County and beyond have walked, bicycled, run, rollerbladed, skateboarded, appreciated nature, played with their kids, and yes, just plain loafed along the trail’s gorgeous 1.3 miles.

SUNY students have hit the books, studied biology and taken mental-health breaks on the trail. Parents with strollers have enjoyed spring shoots and fall colors, free from worry about car traffic. And fly-fishing enthusiasts, who’ve always known where to catch the big ones along the Saranac, now often have an audience for their craft, thanks to the open river vistas the trail provides.

The trail has been celebrated both informally, by commuters like myself who’ve been able to ride a bike to work and avoid parking hassles, and formally. The local Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center put on two official walks on the trail, highlighting the trail’s venue for charitable events.

Last May’s official grand opening was a tour de force of community cooperation. Members of the city’s Common Council, without which the trail wouldn’t exist, were on hand to cut the ribbon, with Councilor and Mayor pro tem Jim Calnon a featured speaker. CVPH sponsored the event, highlighting the health benefits of the Saranac River Trail by bringing in nationally renowned walking guru Mark Fenton to give the keynote address. He was introduced by Mountain Lake PBS’s Thom Hallock, who donated his time to emcee.

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