by Eva Potter

On Aug. 7, 2012, a small group of area leaders and businesspeople, invited by organizer and Ellicottville Town Board Member Ken Hinman, met to gauge the level of interest in moving forward with a recreation trail project. To gain insight from experienced trail builder, they invited guest speaker Joe Higgins, who spearheaded the design, development and construction of the Allegheny River Valley Trail in nearby Allegany, N.Y.

Months of meetings and planning ensued and on Feb. 7, 2013, the Ellicottville–Great Valley Recreational Trail Committee presented their initial plan for the development of a multiuse recreational trail to the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) at their meeting on Feb. 7, 2013 – a huge next step from creative to reality.

CCIDA board member and trail committee member Joe Higgins introduced the Ellicottville–Great Valley Trail Committee and took a few minutes to explain the request for funding of a recreational trail master plan. Even though Ellicottville is an obvious tourist destination offering a variety of outdoor opportunities, he said Ellicottville does not have a trail system and recommended the group work with Rick Manning, a professional landscape architect who specializes in trail design and master plans.

Manning worked with Higgins on the development of the very successful Allegheny River Valley Trail and has worked on numerous other trail projects over the last 15 years, including one with the City of Ithaca.

Manning, along with Ellicottville Town Engineer and committee member Mark Alianello, Keystone Designs, and Ellicottville Town Board Member Ken Hinman presented the “Proposal for the Ellicottville Greenways Master Plan” before CCIDA Board. Board members present included Thomas Buffamante, Joe Higgins, Salvatore Marranca, Greg Fitzpatrick and Brent Driscoll, as well as Executive Director Cory Wiktor. George Cregg, Jr., legal counsel, was also in attendance.

In addressing the CCIDA board, Manning explained the group’s proposal, which outlines plans for the new community trail including branding, communications, fundraising and the use of social media. During the presentation, Alianello presented maps of potential trail locations to depict the scope of the project including an initial Phase 1 including a trailhead by the village park leading north toward Route 219. The first trail is expected to be approximately three-fourths to one mile long.

“Communication to the public is critical and it sounds that’s already off to a great start here,”
said Manning.

Manning emphasized that community fundraising is very important. He said he and Higgins have experienced the importance of  community support, both in volunteer effort as well as monetary donations.

“The private sector or philanthropic community is really important when you start writing government grants,” said Manning.

Members of the local community, as well as corporations, have already approached trail committee members to ask how they can donate to the project.

In response, the committee has opened a trail fund with the Cattaraugus Regional Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public foundation, to begin funding the professional planning of the trail, as well as its construction and future maintenance. Donations made through the foundation are tax deductible.

“I think the special areas along the trail are very good opportunities for private fundraising,” said Manning. Special areas could include trailhead furnishings like benches, kiosks and fitness stations oftentimes built by local craftspeople.

“If you’re a tourist town, (trails) are just part of infrastructure these days, and I think the whole idea of active transportation – of finding safe places for kids to get around the town – it’s becoming part of what people expect, even residents as far as having a great quality of life –  and I know you have it here – but it’s something that would really enhance that a lot,” said Manning.

Wiktor said Ellicottville’s four-season attraction and  trail system would go hand in hand and provide additional recreational opportunities to visitors and residents.

A trail system “adds to a whole aspect of tourism, quality of life, tying into communities,” added Wiktor.

Trails attract tourists and tourists spend dollars, creating a positive economic impact. Trails affect the magnitude of tourism, create interconnected communities, further smart grown and utilize existing resources.

The Ellicottville “economy is heavily tied to tourism and a trail system only complements that,” said Wiktor.

Marrenca commended the committee for their time and vision of the project and that the bottom line is good in the long term for our community.

The board asked the committee to provide additional information before the funding request for the development of the master plan could be granted, which they will provide in the next few weeks.

Make an online contribution at, or mail your check payable to Ellicottville-Great Valley Trail Fund, c/o Community Foundation, 120 N. Union St., Olean, NY 14706.

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