SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail turns 25 this year, and three phases of improvements are planned for the 2-mile pathway.
The trail is surrounded by Meadowbrook Preserve and situated with Lake Avenue to the north and Stafford Bridge Road to the east. It was developed in 1993 in partnership with the city and the Saratoga Springs Open Space Project, now called Saratoga PLAN.
This year, the community-based conservation organization plans to build an 1,100-foot connector trail from the parking area on Meadow Brook Road to the Bog Meadow Brook trailhead.
Another improvement is to elevate a section of the trail's northern section from the parking area on Lake Avenue to the bridge over Bog Meadow Brook.
Greg Redling, Saratoga PLAN stewardship coordinator, said the northern section has sustained years of intensive use, and was further damaged by flooding and beaver activity.
The raised section of the trail would be 2,500 feet long, 8 feet wide and is slated to become incorporated into the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail, which is in the preliminary design and environmental review phase.
The Greenbelt Trail will run downtown from the corner of Maple and Lake avenues to the new Route 50 bike/pedestrian connection near the eastern loop of Excelsior Avenue. It would be 10 miles long and connect the Spring Run, Bog Meadow and Railroad Run trails.
At Tuesday's City Council meeting, the council approved an agreement with the New York State Department of Transportation for the Saratoga Greenbelt Downtown Connector, to ensure the city would be reimbursed for design and other funds.
Tina Carton, city administrator of Parks, Open Lands, Historic Preservation and Sustainability, said an engineer has begun conducting preliminary measurements to develop designs for the downtown connector.
"I'm excited about the progress," she said.
Carton added that, last month, the city put out a request for proposals for a Natural Resources Inventory (NRI). Specifically, the city is looking to gather information, "on the important, naturally occurring resources that are essential to the city's long-term viability and quality of life."
Such resources include geology and soils, water resources, wetlands, habitats and wildlife, climate conditions and projections, cultural resources and land use.
The NRI aims to, "identify the important remaining natural resources, assess the threats they face and recommend conservation practices that might better protect these resources."
A portion of the NRI process is funded by a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Climate Smart Communities Program grant for $15,000, which the city will match.
Received bids are scheduled to be opened on April 24.
The selected consultant will be notified by April 30, and work is expected to begin May 15, depending on City Council approval.
To be a Climate Smart Community, a commitment must be made to decrease energy use, increase renewable energy, recycle, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other things.
The final phase of improvements to the Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail includes repairs to the boardwalk on the southern portion of the trail, which is accessed from the Meadow Brook Road trailhead.
Redling said the weather and extensive use of the boardwalk have caused it to sag.
"To restore the infrastructure, the boardwalk will be adjusted to create a flat plane, and many of the old boards will be replaced, especially at the southern and northern ends," he said. "These improvements will strengthen the boardwalk and increase its resiliency against these changing conditions."
All three phases will be designed and engineered by Munter Enterprises Inc.
Saratoga PLAN is expected to apply for funding through the Land Trust Alliance's New York State Conservation Partnership Program. The city has made a commitment to provide $10,000 toward the project.
The organization is seeking volunteers and donated materials and is scheduled to re-dedicate the trail improvements in the fall.