After years of lobbying and at least one outright refusal, the town of Ballston has cleared a major hurdle needed to extend its bike path north of Outlet Road.
Property owner National Grid has completed a review of the proposed project to extend the Veterans Bike Trail on the strip of land where power lines run from Outlet Road to Brookline Road, said town Councilwoman Mary Beth Hynes. The utility is referring the project to its legal and real estate department to draw up a license agreement, which will detail the specific uses allowed on the trail as well as matters of insurance, security, maintenance and trash removal.
“We weren’t getting ‘yes’ for a long time,” said Hynes, who has worked since 2007 to try to extend the trail. “We were getting ‘maybe.’ At some points we got ‘no.’”
In 2009, the utility refused the town’s request, saying it needed to work on the line and increase capacity before the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant opened in Malta.
Hynes hopes that the town can begin construction on the 1.5-mile trail in the spring. It would be constructed in phases as money permits.
“There’s no reason that we shouldn’t at least be able to start it,” Hynes said, adding that the town would use parks and recreation funds that come from developers.
She and other officials would like to secure access points to the trail from McCrea Hill Road and from the Beacon Hill subdivision, and perhaps create a small parking area for the trail on Brookline Road.
The most expensive part of the trail, and probably nearly the last to be completed, would be a bridge over the Mourningkill Creek near where the trail would meet Brookline Road, Hynes said.
The town’s 3.5-mile bike path currently runs from Route 146A in Ballston Lake north to Outlet Road. Ballston got approval years ago from Niagara Mohawk to construct that trail. What is now the utility’s property used to be a trolley line.
The bike path is very popular, Hynes said.
“In Ballston we don’t have a lot of recreational opportunities. What we do have is used a lot.”
The proposed new section would be a stone dust trail, not paved like the existing path is, Hynes said, because in some places the utility has electrical wires underground and needs to be able to access them if necessary. In other places, the electrical lines run above ground, which will affect the design of the trail.
The area is fairly level, and would mainly require clearing grass and brush before dumping stone, Hynes said.
Saratoga PLAN’s Trails Committee has coordinated the efforts to get National Grid’s approval.
“We’ve met with National Grid on a number of occasions to support the town of Ballston and move forward,” said Julie Stokes, chairwoman of the Trails Committee.
Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) works on plans to connect the various trails throughout the county and would like to at some point connect the future segment of the Ballston bike path to the county-wide Zim Smith trail, which runs through Malta near the proposed trail.
“What we try to do is bring together all of the trail interests,” Stokes said.