LENOX — From four feet of mud to what it is today, the road to the Lenox Rail Trail was paved with hard work and professionalism across the board.
The 2.25-mile rail-trail starts at the Canastota Skate Park on South Peterboro Street and connects the villages of Canastota and Wampsville. The trail parallels an operational CSX railroad and offers a pedestrian and bike link to the Oneida Rail Trail. On Thursday, town of Lenox, village of Canastota and Madison County officials came together to officially open the trail.
“It’s been a chore going through the Lenox Rail Trail because it started as a mud hole,” DiVeronica said before the ribbon cutting. “I gotta give credit to the people who worked on the trail, not me. I may have been in charge of it, but it was the people who worked for us. The professionalism we had working on this trail exceeds anybody else I’ve worked with. I’ve worked construction all my life and these guys were professionals. Everything went so smooth.”
Site Inspector Doug Holdridge said there were four feet of mud in some area, necessitating the need for drainage ditches. That doesn’t mean the majesty of nature was lost.
While working on the trail, the town of Lenox worked to avoid impacting wetlands by diverting the trail as needed. Holdridge said while working on the trail, the crew has seen deer, ducks, muskrat, mink and more. “In the spring, it’s extremely beautiful,” he said.
The trail includes parking at Donald Hicks Dew Drive and at NYS Route 13, an overlook deck structure where the trail crosses Dutch Creek Settlement and a covered pavilion reminiscent of a railroad boarding platform.
The town of Lenox Highway Department and the Madison County Highway Department was awarded the 2019 Transportation Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association. Madison County Administrator Mark Mark Scimone said the county highway crew did a lot of work with the town of Lenox and thanks to the grant secured by the town, the Madison County Highway Department was reimbursed for the work done at no cost to the taxpayers.
The project has been right on budget, DiVeronica said, with almost everything done except for a few kiosks, a solar lamp pole, and a future plan to level off and add four feet of width to the trail. “It’s not in the contract, but it’s something we want to do,” DiVeronica said.
On top of this, DiVeronica said Lenox is pursuing state grants to add an ADA compliant sidewalk to get people coming from Wampsville off the road.
In the meantime, Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood said the sheriff’s office will make an effort to keep an eye on the trail.
“We encourage deputies to get out and keep an eye on the trail,” Hood said. “I’m going to try to get patrols, even on a four-wheeler, just in case anyone needs assistance. This way, we can make sure everyone who’s on the trail is safe, whether they’re out there to exercise, ride their bike or just walk.”