A large group that ranged from passers by to volunteers who have worked on the project for 30 years turned on Tuesday to see the official opening of the Zim Smith recreation trail.
Libby Smith-Holmes of Saratoga Springs, widow of trails advocate Zimri Smith who died in 1994, said he would be “amazed and delighted” to see the finished paved trail.
The Zim Smith Trail now stretches from Coons Crossing in Halfmoon nearly 9 miles to Oak Street in Ballston Spa, where the crowd gathered for a ribbon-cutting organized by the county Board of Supervisors.
The trail has cost about $2 million in federal and county money to build, but it has taken three decades to get approved, designed and built.
County officials and trail advocates hope it can eventually be extended to both Mechanicville and Saratoga Springs, providing new routes for bicyclists, hikers and horseback riders to use.
There are already plans to connect it to Stillwater through the Luther Forest Technology Campus.
“This project is a multi-community effort, supporting Saratoga County’s effort to achieve balanced growth by enhancing our environment and quality of life,” said Supervisor Anita M. Daly, R-Clifton Park, chairwoman of the county Economic Development Committee, which has overseen the trail’s development.
On an usually warm sunny afternoon, Daly invited residents of the Maplewood Manor nursing home, clients of the Saratoga Bridges disabilities services program, and even a dog to help county supervisors with the ribbon-cutting.
“It’s for everyone,” she said.
The last two miles of trail from Underpass Road in Ballston to Oak Street were completed a few weeks ago. The trail is already seeing significant use.
“I passed a dozen people. The trail is definitely getting use,” said Supervisor Alan R. Grattidge, R-Charlton, after completing a bicycle ride from Ballston Spa to Underpass Road and back.
Riding up from Malta were Helene Brecker and Bob Lavery, who were on the original trail planning committee.
“This was my baby,” said Brecker, who chaired the committee in the early 1990s.
“This is terrific,” said Julia Stokes, chairwoman of the trails committee for Saratoga PLAN, a land preservation organization.
She has been another leading advocate for the Zim Smith project, but she praised the county for pursuing grants, signing construction contracts, and spending its own money when necessary.
“There have been a lot of volunteers that envisioned this trail over the last 30 years, but it was the Board of Supervisors that stepped up and did the tough stuff,” Stokes said.
Some of the people who were at the ceremony just happened on it while using the trail.
“This is nice. This is beautiful. I never thought I’d see this here,” said Eric Serny of Jupiter, Fla., a former Ballston Spa resident.
“I just rode around here and I happened to see a commotion over there and decided to see where the path goes.”
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Categories: Schenectady County