JOHNSTOWN - A right-of-way around the Johnstown Industrial Park's Walmart Distribution Center may be developed as part of the Rail Trail in 2013, the Fulton County Planning Board heard recently.
County Senior Planner Sean Geraghty gave an update on future development of the trail, which county officials have been working on since the 1980s. The original idea was to create a roughly 20-mile non-motorized, paved recreation rail from Montgomery County, north through Fulton County.
"We've gotten nothing but great feedback on this thing since the beginning," Geraghty said Tuesday. "People use it all the time."
Board Chairman John Blackmon added: "There's hundreds of these things going in around the country."
Geraghty told board members the county in 1996 was able to receive $180,000 in initial grant funding and another $500,000 to develop the second phase. He said the third phase of the recreational trail - also converting the old F.J.&G. Railroad to a linear path - involves building south through the city of Johnstown to Union Avenue.
"The project sort of died there," Geraghty said.
When the Walmart distribution facility opened in 2000 on Enterprise Road, it had been built over the old railroad bed, he said. But he said the retailer left a 60-foot right-of-way around the property.
"That's going to be developed, we hope, in the next year," Geraghty said.
He said Montgomery County has received funding to develop its part of the trail in that county so it can "link it up" to Fulton County.
"They're in the design phase," Geraghty said.
Fulton County is looking into development of a privately-owned 5-mile stretch that mostly runs through the town of Mayfield. It would connect an existing 10-mile path that runs through Gloversville and Johnstown with a 2-mile section in Vail Mills.
The trail's right of way in Mayfield fell into the hands of a half-dozen private owners in the 1980s when the town declined the right of first refusal to take over that section of the former FJ&G railroad. When the Rail Trail project began in the 1990s, it stalled near the town border, when the land owners wouldn't allow development on the railroad's former right of way.
About 4.5 miles of trail between Union Avenue Extension in Johnstown to Route 5 in Fonda remains undeveloped. Montgomery County expects to complete its 3.4-mile section between Fonda and the city line this year, and Johnstown officials expect to link it with the existing in the next year or two. That would leave the Mayfield section as the only missing link.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.