Committee, city working together to get trail built

We are writing in response to the June 24 letter with respect to the Rails to Trails project. The Rails to Trails Committee under University Heights Collaborative (UHC) is working with the city to ensure existing federal funds earmarked for the project are utilized. This requires approval of a preliminary plan, in addition to securing site control over at least one parcel of land for the project by September.

The initial plan was proposed in 2005 and not finalized. Now, eight years later, circumstances have changed in terms of prices, funding sources and requirements. For example, the city’s share of matching funds required to obtain the federal funds is 15 percent. At the time of the original planning process, New York State provided two-thirds of this required match, but that program has since been terminated.

It is our intention to seek funds to implement a phase 2 for the project, which would create a companion trail off the spur to the west, to Starin Avenue. This entails securing the allocated funding now. We do not wish to risk losing funding due to differing opinions over exact trail placement. The petition referenced in the aforementioned letter was primarily a reaction to a proposed commercial/residential development on the site. Trail placement was not a primary focus. A new petition is currently circulating with 600 signatures to date, specifically supporting the city’s effort to build the trail.

The UHC places significant value on the proposed improvements to Linear Park, which are well-known to many folks, especially in the University Heights neighborhood. There has been a tremendous effort by University Heights residents, our University at Buffalo community neighbors and the Buffalo Parks Department to maintain and improve the park.

In sum, we want the trail to be built, period. If circumstances and funding have changed, then compromise is necessary to build what we can with existing resources.

Michael (Mickey) Vertino

President, UHC

Ray Reichert

Chairman, Rails to Trails

Committee, UHC