MOREAU — The Town Board is taking steps to update a mile-long, multi-use trail loop along the Hudson River, as well as open a path to larger outdoor recreation opportunities.
“This is an incredible opportunity for the town of Moreau to take advantage of and expand our recreational offerings to our residents,” Town Supervisor Todd Kusnierz said during Tuesday’s regular Town Board meeting. “We have a golden opportunity, now, to really have a top-notch multi-use trail, which will be the beginning … of a more extensive trail system, eventually tying to the county.”
The Big Bend Trail project, as it is known, is the first phase in the Big Boom Trail initiative, which is a cultural and heritage tourism project that seeks to tell the story of “the Big Boom,” a 4-mile stretch of the Hudson River that functioned as a sort of holding point for logs used in the various industries of the area in the mid-1800s.
It will enhance the Nolan Road boat launch area with a new paved parking lot, bike rack, as well as a trailhead and expanded asphalt walkway leading to the natural loop trail that runs through the woodland area. The loop will reconnect to the waterfront path near an observation area with benches and an overlook.
“So, it will be a very easy trail for anyone to take part in,” Michael Panich, with the LA Group, the landscape architecture and engineering firm contracted to design the project, said during the meeting.
Panich presented the board with two design options for the trail.
Option one would include the observation area, paved parking lot, bike rack, and trailhead leading to a 12-foot-wide access corridor also paved with asphalt. Then there would be crushed stone for the remainder of the trail along the waterfront, as well as along the woodland loop. That option would carry a price tag of around $396,000.
Option two would also include the observation area, parking lot, bike rack, and trailhead but would extend the paved path along the entirety of the waterfront trail. That jumps the cost up to $456,000.
“By nature, crushed stone is still accessible, although it’s simply not as easy to wheel a wheelchair on,” Panich said. “Asphalt is a much harder surface.”
Panich presented the council with the option to either accept option two, or proceed with the less expensive option one, and reassess the project as bids come in.
“When the bids come in, the town can then consider whether or not they want to select the additional cost (of asphalting the entire waterfront path),” he said.
Panich cautioned the council that it could always inflate the bottom-line cost of a project as more features are added once a bid has been accepted.
Kusnierz, who is also the Saratoga Board of Supervisors chairman, said that he’d been in discussions with other Saratoga County officials over the years about creating an extended trail system connecting several recreational areas throughout the county.
“The county is very much interested … in getting the town of Moreau to commit to eventually tying into Moreau State Park and eventually, way down to Zim Smith Trail.”
In concert with those discussions, the town received a Recreational Trails Program Grant from the state for $250,000, which will be used for the Big Bend project, with the remainder of the funds needed committed by the Town Board.
After a brief discussion on the merits of each option, the board decided to accept option two, which has a higher price tag, but offers more ease or access to trail users, while keeping the option of reducing the amount of the waterfront trail that is paved as bids come in.
“So, if we did put it out for, say, what our preferred was: paving the entire thing and all the bids came in higher than we’re comfortable with, we could just reject them all,” suggested Councilman Mark Stewart.
Panich said the bids will be sent out in the spring, with construction of the project slated to begin as early as this summer.
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