To add to the list of festivities for the 2019 Groton Olde Home Days, the Groton Recreation Department announced this past week that the new hiking trail system will be opening up on the final day of Olde Home Days on Aug. 24.
The grand opening will take place at 1 p.m. at the Groton Memorial Park. There, following the ribbon cutting ceremony, visitors can pick up a map of the trail along with some refreshments before going on a short hike of about 0.4 miles up.
The trail system in its entirety is about four and a half miles long. It starts from Groton Memorial Park, traveling south through the woods behind the Groton Central School District and looping upward north to connect with the Town Gravel Bank before making its way back to the village’s downtown area.
A small committee of Recreation Director Jennifer Jones, Groton Joint Recreation Committee member Scott Weeks and Groton resident Jeff Cronk began working together to create the project about a year ago. Jones said she is elated for the grand opening ceremony of the project.
“Up to this point, we have received tons of positive feedback on our progress,” Jones said over email. “Many community members asking questions and are anxious to explore the trails. So for me, the most exciting part is to finally say the “trails are open.”
While it is not an immediate plan for the community, Jones said in an article back in May for the Groton Independent that connecting the rail trails in Groton with the rail trails in Dryden would be a future aspiration. She said building a hiking trail system was something that was highly requested by community members.
“Currently in the Town and Village of Groton, you will not find any recreational trails available to the community,” Jones said. “In the 2016 Recreation Needs Assessment conducted by the Groton Joint Recreation Committee, trails were identified as a requested opportunity from the community.”
She said a hiking trail system will benefit the community in a variety of ways.
“This project will create an opportunity for the entire community to hike and bike close to home as well as add an attraction for visitors from surrounding areas,” she said. “This area will offer a variety of options for Groton and visitors alike for fitness and access to nature.”
The committee received financial and physical assistance from multiple individuals and groups for the project. The committee applied for and secured a grant to the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability. The grant was called the “Tompkins County for the Towns and Villages Parks and Trails Grant Program” and was worth $5,000. In addition, Groton high school students from Drew Davis’ Building Trades course will be building two kiosks as well as several trail direction signs, such as the one pictured on page 1.
Jones encourages members of the community to attend the grand opening to learn more about the trail system.
“The grand opening will offer people a chance to meet the people who worked on this trail, ask questions, and receive a printed map,” she said. “Since the trails are not open ’til this day, people who attend the grand opening will be the first to hike the new trails.”