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St. Lawrence County trail system receives cash infusion

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County has received an additional grant award of $250,000 toward its multi-use trail for a total of $500,000 through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

“I was ecstatic about that,” Legislator Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler, said. “It’s going to allow us to do some things we weren’t going to do.”

The county was originally awarded $500,000 for the trail system that will link Lewis County to Franklin County through St. Lawrence County, but that money was pulled in 2012 by Empire State Development.

With some exceptions, the trail will be for many users, including snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, hikers, dogsledders, horseback riders and bicyclists.

Earlier this year, the county learned it had regained half of that money. On Monday, County Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire told legislators of the additional award.

“It’s excellent news for the north country,” said Debbie A. Christy, the county’s trail coordinator. “We’ve been talking about this for seven years. The eighth year, we’re breaking ground.”

Spending the money can take place over two years, she said.

The easternmost portion of the trail from Franklin County at St. Regis Falls near Lake Ozonia to Hopkinton and ending at the county’s pilot trail in Parishville could open by the end of June.

A western section from Pitcairn through the Tooley Pond Road could open by the end of August.

The county wants the state Department of Environmental Conservation to complete a unit management plan for the middle part of the trail in a section of the Adirondack Park before it starts work, so construction there probably will not take place until next year, Ms. Christy said.

“We really tried to make sure we did things in the right order,” Ms. Christy said.

The additional money is an indicator that the state sees the county is serious and doing a good job, Mr. MacKinnon said. The award also allows some of the funding to be used for contractual expenses, such as for Ms. Christy’s time.

“We could elect to use some of it for the coordinator,” Mr. MacKinnon said. “That’s going to perpetuate the trail coordinator for awhile.”

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