At the Rotary Club of Jamestown's meeting on April 25, Rotarians learned of the proposed LoCo Rail Trail from Rotarian Ken Lawton.
Lawton lives in Busti and is a member of the Town board.  He said the trail will be installed on the existing railroad right-of-way and adjacent paper streets from the southwest side of Busti to the northeast side, where it intersects with the proposed Celoron trail into Jamestown. It is a totally volunteer effort, which draws upon a growing number of such rail trails that are being developed in the country.
The proposed trail will be 10 feet wide, according to Lawton, with a six-foot fence between the trail and the railroad track. The railroad right-of-way is wide enough for two tracks, but there is only one, so the rail trail can make use of existing infrastructure of rail bed and bridges. Still, the group is trying to raise $2 million for phase one. A 2014 application for State funding was denied, so the group is preparing to re-apply this year. That funding would require a 20 percent local match. Lawton said while the Western NYPA Railroad supports the effort, they will require LoCo to lease the property and make sure it is maintained. Details for maintenance and for funding the Rail Trail once it is launched have not yet been worked out.  
There are a number of reasons to pursue a the LoCo Rail Trail project, Lawton said. First, the trail will provide a safe route for walkers, runners and bikers, taking them off the busy streets and decreasing the number of vehicle-pedestrian accidents. He suggested that the trail would become a destination, bringing people into the area and increasing retail sales. He also said the trail would be a recognized asset in the community and would improve community health by giving more people a safe way to get out and exercise as well as giving a viable alternative to jumping into the car to go to work or to the store or to lake, baseball or soccer events.

Lawton said the idea for the trail came out of the Busti Comprehensive Plan public meeting, where community members identified trails and recreation as a high priority. The Village of Lakewood is also working to approve their Plan, which specifically references the LoCo Rail Trail.  For more information, visit LoCo Rail Trail online.
PHOTO: From left, Rotarian Ken Lawton, Rotary Exchange students Irena Rey and Susan Bowers, and Rotarian Sharon Hamilton with a sign supporting the proposed LoCo Rail Trail.