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Letter: Southern Tier linear park is beneficial to our region

Back in 2011, I wrote a letter to The Buffalo News that appeared in Everybody’s Column under the headline “Western New York should complete local greenway.” That headline is just as relevant today.

In the letter, I stated we needed to “connect the dots” of our existing local trails by using abandoned railroad beds to create new trails that link to hubs – tourist destinations, parks and communities. Many small groups and local not-for-profits had been working on this effort for years. What we needed at the time was a major player or consortium to lead this effort to create a beautiful and dynamic greenway in Western New York.

Fast forward to 2018. In October, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation generously stepped forward with a $100 million investment for parks and trails in Western New York. This gift will transform the vision of a regional greenway into a reality. This commitment is also energizing other regional not-for-profit and trail groups to move forward based on the momentum created by the Wilson Foundation.

As private citizens, every one of us has an important grassroots role in this process. Be sure to let your local leaders and state elected officials know that you support this renewed effort to connect the dots in Western New York. Find out how you can work with local trail groups, like Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail, Inc., to build a multi-use linear park on a 27-mile former rail corridor in the Southern Tier.

With your positive input and support of the implementation efforts of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and other trail groups, we can create the best regional greenway system in the United States.

Rick LeFeber

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