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Clarence and Amherst officials are proposing a $1.5 million plan to extend recreational trails in each community that connect at Transit Road.

The towns this week are applying to the state for $1.2 million in grant money to finance 80 percent of the project. The biggest chunk, $705,000, would go to Amherst. Clarence would get $462,375.

Each community would then provide a 20 percent match for its share of the total project. Amherst would provide a $235,000 match, while Clarence would provide $116,000.

The money would go toward a recreational trail along what is known in the towns as the "Peanut Line," a route that follows rights of way along abandoned railroad tracks.

In Amherst, the new trail would go about five miles, running from the Ellicott Creek trail near Route 990, then cutting across the town and connecting with Clarence at Transit Road.

The project would involve paving a trail and installing fencing and screening to minimize the impact on homes that back up to the trail, officials said.

In Clarence, the town already has about eight miles of trail in place. With the grant money, Clarence would add another 2 1/2 miles, officials said.

Clarence began its "rails to trails" project about five years ago when a local family wanted to do something in memory of a loved one, said Councilman John L. Love.

"They started the first section, from Goodrich Road to Heise Road, and we got such a tremendous response that it gave us the impetus to make sure that we had funds put in the budget for it. Now we're all the way down to Meadow Lakes (subdivision)," he said.

The town would likely use the grant money to complete the trail from the town park past Ransom Road on the West Shore Line and to complete a section from Meadow Lakes Park to Transit Road and into Amherst.

"We have a lot of sections done," Love said. "And we have a lot to do."

Eventually, Love said, it's possible a trail will run from Akron to Buffalo.

Though several portions still have to be completed, Clarence has been making progress on other sections of the trail.

This year, the grading and drainage have been completed on one section of the Peanut Line from Salt Road to the town line, Love said. Also completed is the Akron junction, where the West Shore Line meets up with the Peanut Line.

"Every year, we put about $100,000 in the conservation budget," Love said. "Every year, we try to expand the trail piece by piece."

Clarence officials already have awarded the bid to complete the paving from Salt Road to the town line, he added. And in the next two years, officials will be concentrating on finishing the portion from Salt Road to Kraus Road.

Also on the Peanut Line, there are two "quite extensive" pieces of the trail left to be constructed, Supervisor Daniel Herberger said -- a section from Kraus and Strickler roads and another from Strickler to Salt roads.

"This phase will link up Clarence with Newstead," Herberger said. "It will be done this year or early spring."

Also, the town is bidding out a section from Salt Road to the Town of Newstead.

In addition to the section on the West Shore Line that officials hope to complete with money from the grant, another portion of West Shore Line -- from Gunnville Road to Wehrle Drive -- is nearly complete, Love said. Once it's topcoated in the spring, that portion will be complete.


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