Dryden will not be the only community to have its own trail system. The Groton Recreation Department announced in April that a hiking trail system will be opening up in the community sometime late in August.
The trail system will be about four and a half miles long. It will start from Groton Memorial Park, travel south through the woods behind the Groton Central School District and loop 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. Cronk is a local runner who said he became involved in the project because he had a certain goal in mind.
“Jen Jones, our Recreation Director, had asked me about it multiple times because I’m a local runner,” Cronk said. “I’m always running all around town, including on whatever trails I can find. I told her my dream was to connect the rail trails in Groton to the … Freeville, Dryden system, or the Moravia direction. But that’s so complicated with landowners, so we decided to look at something else.”
While it is not an immediate plan for the community, Jones said 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 and Cronk said a hiking trail system would 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.”
“It’ll be great for hiking, mountain biking – we’re going to say no motorized vehicles on it, if we have the power to do that because it’s not all our property, obviously,” Cronk said. “It’ll give people a place to go walk off the streets, off the sidewalks; walk, run, walk their dogs.”
Construction of the trail system has already begun thanks to a grant received from Tompkins County. 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.
Jones said high school students from Drew Davis’ Building Trades course will be building two kiosks as well as several trail direction signs.
Cronk said the most challenging part of the project so far has been identifying which property lines are private and public.
“Where you can go, where you can’t, and if you have to cross private property, trying to communicate with the people to see if they would ‘A’ let you or ‘B’ how are you going to get around it,” he said.
He said currently they are constructing on town and village property, but the committee does anticipate having to try to get permission from landowners to build on their property.
“It’s something that has to happen,” he said. “In order for the trail to be complete we have to do it, but we have ways around things; we have plan ‘B’s’ if we can’t.”
He said he is proud of the work thus far of the committee that are involved in the project.
“[They are a] good group of people that knows how to get stuff done,” he said. “Any kind of committee, it’s hard … everybody’s busy; we’re all busy. We all got a lot to do, so the three of us are efficient and easy to work together.”