GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION FOR FIRST MILE OF ONEIDA RAIL TRAIL: A CNY85 GRANT WINNING PROJECT

It’s not every day that an entire community unites to support one cause. So when the residents and business owners of the City of Oneida rallied behind the Oneida Improvement Committee (OIC) during the Central New York Community Foundation’s CNY85 online voting competition, in support of a new recreational “rail trail” system, it made quite the impact.

In celebration of its 85-year anniversary, the Central New York Community Foundation hosted The CNY85 Giving Project to recognize the many impactful projects of the Central New York nonprofit community. Over the course of 2012, the project awarded grants to four deserving nonprofit organizations working to improve the

10599218_704739829620254_8297118143255382719_nquality of life in Central New York as demonstrated by our collaborative community indicators project, CNYVitals.

Members of the Oneida community joined forces to support the OIC which successfully garnered the most public votes in the CNY85 Giving Project’s final round of organizations within the categories of arts, culture, recreation and civic engagement. They received an $8,500 grant to begin their intended project.

With the assistance of the CNYCF grant, the committee’s hope of repurposing existing historic asset rail beds, as a new community destination that will eventually circle the City, has become a reality. The grant enabled the OIC to recruit volunteers, design signage and work with local government, utility companies and homeowners to bring the trails to fruition.

“The CNY85 grant has catapulted the Oneida Rail Trail project into the spotlight, not only locally but regionally and statewide,” said Patti Meakin, Secretary/Treasurer of the Oneida Improvement Committee.  “The Oneida Rail Trail will make our community a better place to live by strengthening our local economy, protecting our environment and preserving valuable cultural and historic areas.”

The 11.3-mile non-motorized, multi-use recreational trail located in the City of Oneida will benefit all who utilize its paths 10620550_698576626903241_7985626784684601950_nby connecting shopping, neighborhoods, schools and parks. The OIC predicts that the new trail system will generate economic development, enhance the community’s quality of life and good health, improve the local environment, develop civic engagement, and preserve the area’s heritage.

Hundreds of volunteers and committee members have been working tirelessly all year long to get the first 1-mile section of the trail completed for fall.

“We are thrilled to have this first section opening and for the community to come out and use it,” says City of Oneida Mayor Max Smith. “This is just the beginning, we believe the Oneida Rail Trail is going to be much more than a trail but a catalyst for new opportunities in Oneida.”

On September 8, at 6:00 p.m. a ribbon-cutting celebration will take place at the new trailhead along Hubbard Place. Attendees will be welcomed with opening remarks by Mayor Max Smith and a guided walking tour by local rail historian John Taibi. The Oneida Improvement Committee will also be holding a clean-up event on Saturday, September 6th from 9:00 a.m. to noon to get the section ready for opening. During the clean-up event, volunteers can help install gates at both ends of the trail, trail markers, and the trailhead sign.

“One of the unique features of the Oneida Rail Trail is that unlike a typical rail trail, which is usually just an out-and-back, Oneida has the opportunity to use three bisecting rail beds to create a loop around the City,” said Luke Griff, City of Oneida Parks and Recreation Department. “The trail has been an envisioned City project for years and many sections are already being used. We just have to stitch the pieces together.”

The 1 mile section stretches from Hubbard Place along a former rail bed east to Lenox Avenue with parking along Hubbard Place. Eventually, the trail will cross Lenox Avenue and continue east, but for now it is an out-and-back. The trail will be open for hiking and biking as well as cross-country skiing and snow shoeing in the winter. Leashed pets are also welcome on the trail.

First 1 Mile Segment of the ORT to Open

A ribbon-cutting event will be held on September 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm to officially open a 1 mile section of the City of Oneida’s Oneida Rail Trail (ORT).  Utilizing existing railbeds, the envisioned ORT trail system will eventually circle the City.  While many portions of the railbeds are used by the community now, the 1 mile section represents the first portion to be officially open and designated for public use.

The ribbon-cutting event will be held at the new trailhead along Hubbard Place and is open to the public to attend.  Events include opening remarks by Mayor Max Smith and a guided walking tour by local rail historian John Taibi.  The 1 mile section stretches from Hubbard Place along a former railbed East to Lenox Avenue.  Parking is along Hubbard Place.  Eventually, the trail will cross Lenox Avenue and continue East, but for now the trail is out-and-back.

The Oneida Improvement Committee, Inc., the non-profit partner helping to develop the trial system will hold a clean-up event on Saturday, September 6th from 9:00 am – Noon to get the section ready for opening.  During the clean-up event, volunteers can help install trail markers and the trailhead sign.  Those interested in volunteering should contact the Oneida Improvement Committee at info@improveoneida.com

“We are thrilled to have this first section opening and for the community to come out and use it. This is just the beginning: we believe the Oneida Rail Trail is going to be much more that a trail but a catalyst for new opportunities in Oneida, ” says Mayor Max Smith.

The trail will be open to hiking and biking as well as cross-country skiing and snow shoeing in the winter.  Leashed pets are also welcome on the trail.  Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail. Trail users are asked to please respect private property and stay on the trail.

In January 2014, the City received funding from NYS DOT Transportation Enhancement Program for a 3.1 mile segment of the ORT.  Eventually this 3.1 mile segment will connect to the 1 mile segment being opened now.

“One of the unique features of the Oneida Rail Trail is that unlike a typical rail trail, which is usually just and out-and-back, Oneida has the opportunity to use three bisecting railbeds to create a loop around the City,” said Luke Griff, City of Oneida Parks and Recreation Department.  In terms of the 1 mile segment very little was needed to open it as the City owns the property. “The trail has been an envisioned City project for years and many sections are already being used. We just have to stitch the pieces together,” says Griff.

Save the Date (3)

Mum’s the Word – Annual Mum Sale

Oneida Improvement Committee’s Annual Mum Sale is going on now thru September 2nd.

We have reserved a large quantity of potted mums in several colors to choose from.  Prices are 1 for $10, 2 for $15 and 3 for $20.  Color choices are Red, Yellow, Purple, and Orange. Orders are due September 2nd.  Mail your order to OIC, PO Box 55, Oneida, NY or drop off at the Oneida Rec Center, 217 Cedar Street, Oneida.  Cash, check or money orders.  Make checks out to: OIC  Pick up will be Thursday, September 4th at the Oneida Rec Center, 217 Cedar Street, Oneida.  Email us at info@improveoneida.com for more information.

Proceeds from the sale help fund the OIC a local 501(c)3 working to improve Oneida.

2014mumsaleflyer

PTNY Awards Website Grant

 The statewide advocacy group Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) recently awarded almost $15,000 in Growing the Grassroots capacity building grants to eight not-for-profit park and trail organizations. The groups will use the funds to increase organizational visibility, generate community support, grow membership, and attract additional volunteers.

Since it initiated the awards program in 2009, PTNY has assisted 54 organizations in 36 New York counties. The Oneida Improvement Committee, Inc. received $1,500 for the design of a website to help recruit volunteers, attract donations, and transform the organization as it leads the effort to create an 11 mile, city-wide multi-use trail network.

“The Oneida Improvement Committee is grateful to be awarded this grant, which will enable us to reach our goal of having all of our information in one location reachable by all. This website is sure to increase volunteerism, attract donations and awareness to the Oneida Rail Trail project,” said Joe Magliocca, Oneida Improvement Committee president.

PTNY’s program is unique in that it supports activities not normally covered by existing grants. Most grants available to not-for-profits fund capital projects and specific programs. PTNY’s Growing the Grassroots capacity building grants focus on developing and strengthening the skills, processes, and resources that will allow park and trail groups to thrive and better foster the expansion, stewardship, and promotion of New York’s parks and trails.

“Hundreds of not-for-profit organizations are working to build, protect, and promote our state’s parks and trails which contribute so much to our economy and quality of life,” said Robin Dropkin, Parks & Trails New York executive director. “With our Growing the Grassroots grant program, we can help propel these groups to new levels, enabling them to leverage more private funding and marshal more volunteer power to aid their stewardship efforts.”

Parks & Trails New York is the leading statewide advocate for parks and trails, dedicated since 1985 to improving the health and quality of life of all New Yorkers by working with community organizations and municipalities to envision, create, promote, and protect a growing network of parks, greenways and trails throughout the state for all to use and enjoy. The Oneida Improvement Committee, Inc. the not-for-profit partner of the Oneida Rail Trail echoes this mission by working to improve the quality of life for the residents of Oneida.

More information on the Growing the Grassroots grant program and Parks & Trails New York can be found at www.ptny.org or by calling 518-434-1583.

NYS DOT TEP Award Granted

The City of Oneida’s application was successful! The ORT was 1 of only 63 projects statewide to be selected and will receive $545,830 for the development of this 3.1 mile segment.

In August 2013, the City of Oneida partnered with Madison County to submit an application to the NYS DOT Transportation Enhancement Program for a 3.1 mile section of the ORT.

This 3.1 mile segment of the ORT extends from N. Willow St in Oneida along the NY Central Railbed and will connect northwest through Wampsville to the NYS Erie Canalway trail.

Proposed improvements include a fully handicapped accessible stone dust trail, restoration of a historic rail bridge, trailheads, and signage.

Prior to construction, design work and environmental review will have to be complete. NYS DOT states it is usually two years between TEP funding approval and the start of construction.

Background on TEP

The Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP) is a federal reimbursement program administered in New York by NYS DOT. TEP funding is dedicated for strategic investments in non-motorized transportation alternatives.

The intent of the program is to encourage tourism and economic development opportunities Statewide. The funds cover up to 80 percent of the cost of a project, with the remaining 20 percent or more coming from the project sponsor.

2014 Master Plan

2014 Oneida Rail Trail Master Plan

Click the map to download a PDF version (9.6 MB)