Trail may blaze path into future

We were happy to hear Fulton County officials are pressing to finish the missing gaps in the FJ&G Rail Trail. Developing the remaining links in the paved hiking and biking path along the former raiload bed would benefit local tourism and recreation.

It’s been 15 years since the first stage of the FJ&G Rail Trail was completed, but the entire trail still is not done. Officials now want to develop a broken link in the recreation path.

The Buildings & Grounds Committee of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors last week approved pursuing development of a privately owned 5-mile stretch that mostly runs through the town of Mayfield. This part of the trail would connect an existing 10-mile paved path that runs through Gloversville and Johnstown with a 2-mile paved 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 railroad. The Rail Trail stalled near the town border when the land owners wouldn’t allow development on the railroad’s former right of way.

There are two other undeveloped portions. About 4.5 miles of trail between Union Avenue Extension in Johnstown and 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 trail next year.

That would leave the Mayfield section as the only missing link.

Officials are right to at least investigate completing the trail. As it is, the trail attracts visitors and adds to the quality of life for local residents who enjoy riding their bikes or taking long walks. Completing the trail would allow residents and tourists to trod a 22-mile path from the Erie Canal to Broadalbin.

Anyone who has been on the completed sections of the Rail Trail can attest to its value. For some, it’s a convenient place to exercise; for others, it’s a chance to enjoy a little bit of nature.

Officials are considering using grant money to complete the trail. The state has been pushing upstate communities – especially those in or near the Adirondacks – to plan development with tourism in mind.

We hope the landowners in Mayfield agree to sell the land for the trail so the county finally can finish this worthwhile project.

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