Saratoga County

Town seeks $1M grant for trail

The town is applying for a state grant for a nearly $1 million project to create a new pedestrian

PHOTOGRAPHER:

The town is applying for a state grant for a nearly $1 million project to create a new pedestrian and horse trail connection through the Ballston Creek valley.

The project, estimated to cost $953,000, will make a new trail linking the existing Zim Smith recreation trail to Route 9, including a crossing of the creek.

The trail would be in the general area where the Round Lake bypass is currently being built, and some work for it is going to be done as part of the bypass construction contract.

The new trail will eventually link up with new horse and pedestrian trails being built at the Luther Forest Technology Campus, allowing people to reach those trails and others in Stillwater, all the way to the Saratoga National Historic Park.

“It’s only a half-mile, but it’s a critical connection to making a much larger trail network available,” said Julia Stokes, chairwoman of Saratoga PLAN, a private land preservation group working with the town.

The town zoning approval for the Luther Forest Technology Campus requires that the trail be created but without spelling out when or how. M.J. Engineering of Clifton Park was subsequently hired to do design work.

“It’s an important connection,” said Audrey Ball, the town’s parks and recreation director.

Last year, Saratoga PLAN got a $100,000 state grant and the town a $20,000 state grant toward designing the trail and developing the grant application.

Saratoga PLAN owns a former trolley line in the valley that would be improved as part of the new trail.

This morning, the Town Board is scheduled to hold a special meeting to approve the grant application to the state Department of Transportation under DOT’s Transportation Enhancement grant program.

Ball said the Town Board is approving the application with the understanding that Saratoga PLAN will come up with the required 20 percent local share if the application is successful — and Stokes said it can raise the money.

“I’ve been working with a number of different organizations to get a commitment to make the match,” Stokes said.

The grant application deadline is today. The fate of the application won’t be known until late this year.

The new trail would loop from the Zim Smith Trail south of the Ballston Creek, crossing the creek on the embankment of the Northway, then running back along the creek and passing under the new bypass bridge before coming to Route 9.

Meanwhile, the Zim Smith Trail from East Line Road to Round Lake remains closed because of construction of the $22 million bypass and also because of installation of a new Saratoga County water line.

Originally, the trail was expected to reopen in July, but Ball said the latest information she has is that it will be closed into August.

“There’s a lot of frustration,” she said. “We’re getting a lot of calls.”

The Zim Smith Trail, which is still in development, is to provide a non-motorized route for pedestrians, cyclists and horses from Coon’s Crossing in Halfmoon to Ballston Spa. Snowmobiles are allowed to use the trails in winter.

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