It’s been a long road to this point. But the reality of the EVGV Trail is one step closer.
A proposed network of bike and foot trails woven into the communities of Ellicottville and Great Valley, the EVGV Trail aims to provide another amenity for the community. The overall vision lays out roughly 15 miles of connected trails, allowing for safe travel from places like Ellicottville Central School to the Ellicottville Library. It’s an optimistic endeavor.
Since its formation, the EVGV Trail committee has shown a willingness to fight for the trail in the face of a seemingly endless barrage of permits, insurance issues, red tape and other difficulties. But with the community behind it, the dream has stayed alive.
When BOCES students built the trailhead at the Town Center in 2017, it was physical, tangible progress. It ignited the community — no longer just talk, the trail had a starting point. But the momentum came to a screeching halt. In an effort to protect the Northern Long Eared Bat, a threatened species in Cattaraugus County, New York State Fish & Wildlife enacted a rule limiting the clearing of land between the months of April and November. To boot, 1/10th of an acre of the proposed trail rested on federally-protected wetlands, requiring the committee to receive permission from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Committee member Joe Wright and MDA Engineer Mark Alianello have navigated the trail’s continued progress through this landmine of bureaucracy. With the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, they can finally move to begin construction on Phase 1.
“The last couple of years has been spent getting insurance squared away, getting the property owners to sign off, the legality of everything — now that’s done, we can begin working our way towards the intersection of Route 219 and Route 242,” Wright said. “Realistically, we’re looking at June or July to begin excavation.”
This section, which will lead from the trailhead to Tim Horton’s, required approval from seven private property owners (as well as the DEC/Army Corps). As Phase 1, it’s required the most heavy lifting. The committee, contracting Northrup Construction to excavate, has the necessary funds to complete it.
“It’s only the beginning,” Wright said. “Once we begin this — where people can see the work, the progress — it will make the next phases easier. The community support has been outstanding.”
On Sunday, June 9, the EVGV Trail will host its annual Ham and Turkey raffle at the American Legion. Tickets are $20 apiece, which gets you in the door and entered into the cash drawings. Once inside, you can buy tickets and spin to win a myriad of hams, turkeys, and other meat prizes; the tickets also get you beer and refreshments inside.
After completing excavation, the Trail committee will hold fast for more funding to finish the segment. But the work doesn’t stop there — the next phases include a trail network around the Village, looping in the town park and connecting to the Nannen Arboretum.
“Fortunately, Cattaraugus County has a newfound commitment in trail-network building,” Wright said. “The ultimate goal is to connect our trail with the Pat McGee Trail, the Allegheny River Trail, the rails-to-trails network that connects Orchard Park with Ashford. It’s been a long road, but we’re just on the brink of making some real progress.”
For more information on the Ellicottville-Great Valley Trail, visit evgvtrail.org.