1-3-14-Scenic-Byway-Image-1By Jeff Martin

Residents and frequent visitors of Ellicottville may have more bragging rights come 2014: inclusion into the Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway (WNYSSB) program.

The 71-mile loop connecting Orchard Park, East Aurora and Springville may eventually include Ellicottville, according to Bob Lennartz, president of WNYSSB. The scenic byway is one of 26 in the state and the only one in Western New York.

“Including Ellicottville fits the concept of the byway,” Lennartz said recently. “I think many people familiar with the program think Ellicottville already is included.”

Lennartz gave a presentation to several municipal and business leaders in Cattaraugus County about the possibility to extend the route. Lennartz said reception was positive.

“People are very excited about the program,” he said.

The extension has been proposed as follows: From the intersection of Routes 39 and 219 along the new portion of 219 to old 219. Winding and dipping, Route 219 reaches Route 242 where it leads into Ellicottville and, eventually, stopping at Route 98 in Great Valley.

Another phase of the new extension includes linking up with the first phase at the intersection of Routes 240 and 39 outside Springville and south to Route 242. That route takes travelers through West Valley and areas that Lennartz and others consider some of the most beautiful areas in Western New York.

“People hear Western New York and much of the talk is on Buffalo and Niagara Falls, but there is so much more to offer,” he said, citing his own interest in fishing the Cattaraugus Creek.

To be included in the byway, organizers must prove significance in natural, scenic, cultural, historical and recreational areas.

“Is it beautiful? My goodness, yes,” he said. “And recreational offerings — it’s loaded in Ellicottville.”

Recent accomplishments by the organization include more interpretative signs along the route. The signs explain in detail the significance of the area. Other smaller signs help travelers navigate their way.

“People learn, too, that they shouldn’t just travel the byway,” he said. “I went on a tour with (another individual) and it took five hours, and that’s because we got out of the car. We’re hoping people do that more and more.”

Current attractions along the byway include the Towns of Colden and Boston; Springville and its vibrant Main Street, including a kind of arts renaissance; farming communities and unique shopping. And scenery. Loads of it.

Still, there is much work to do, including formal presentations to the state in January. In Ellicottville, a few zoning and sign ordinance amendments may be required.

“All of it takes time,” he said, adding that the extension should be complete in fall or late 2014.

In addition to municipal government support, community support is also needed.

“We’ve found that most in government know about the byway, know me, but many in the community don’t,” he said. “We need to change that.”

For more information about the byway, visit http://wnyssb.org.