FULTON, NY – Fulton Footpaths, a plan in the works to bring eight heritage trails to the city of Fulton has recently met with a group of local history experts at the Pratt House Museum to gather input on history of the city to be incorporated in the trails.
Organized by Brittney Jerred and Marie Mankiewicz, two Fulton residents who are looking to help revitalize the city, Fulton Footpaths is in the very early stages of conception with much planning ahead.
With hopes to improve quality of life in Fulton, encourage tourism and spur economic development, the trails will build upon work that has already been done and will bring together the many things happening in Fulton right now to restore the city’s charm such as the dredging of Lake Neatahwanta, the restoration of Bull Head Point and the pavilion, the restoration of Indian Point and the revitalization of city parks including Recreation Park located next to the lake.
“The trails are a way to link all these attractions and with that, retail and restaurants will be more likely to follow. We have such great natural resources here, we want to capitalize on that,” Mankiewicz said during the presentation at the Pratt House.
Aside from using the trails to inspire people to engage in fitness activities, the group has plans to incorporate local history throughout the trails to make valuable history of the city of Fulton available to all who utilize the trails.
The trails will all be paved and will have pedestrian lighting throughout as well as benches for resting areas and markers and kiosks to showcase Fulton’s history.
Fulton Footpaths hopes to utilize local artists through CNY Arts Center to showcase public art highlighting local wildlife through murals on building walls visible from the trails.
Extra considerations of the group include exercise equipment at various locations throughout the walk, community raised garden beds in which a community group or volunteers will care for flowers or plants along the trails, trail tales which are small bits of stories located throughout a trail that follow through a number of different kiosks to read the full story and even the idea of an outdoor ice rink along the Oswego Canal.
All of these ideas will be looked at in a feasibility study to determine the cost of the project and what is feasible to afford.
Currently, the group is in the writing stage for grant funding opening May 1 and being due on July 1.
After submission, the group will learn if they have been awarded the grant in December of 2016 at the earliest.
With grant funding, the group can then conduct the feasibility study in the year 2017 at which time each trail will be costed out separately and the decision will be made as to which trail will begin work first.
“So, we are looking at 2018 before we actually see the trails being built,” said Mankiewicz.
However, the planning and behind the scenes work will continue right along for project developers.
For this reason, the group met with local history experts from the Fulton Historical Association as well as city representation from Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr., and Fulton Community Development Agency representation from Executive Director, Joseph Fiumara.
The group explained the intentions and future goals of Fulton Footpaths and through a PowerPoint presentation asked for historical input on each era throughout Fulton history.
Starting with the Native Americans and traveling through time to the most recent historical era ending in 1950, the local experts present dove into the city’s rich history on every level.
Aside from numerous fun facts that many Fulton residents may be unaware of, the group was able to provide a personal touch by including their own individual recollections of Fulton in the past such as recalling a time when 29 trains ran through the city in one day of which a person could order something from Syracuse in the morning and have it delivered to Fulton via train by the same evening.
They also discussed how Fulton was once referred to as “The City the Depression Missed” as it was so rich in industry that the Great Depression did not destroy the city of Fulton as it did much of the nation, as well as utilizing the factory whistles that blew twice a day as markers of when to get home for the evening.
They spoke of former city highlights including Indian burial locations throughout the city; paper, silk and woolen mills that stood seven stories tall; a horse drawn trolley that circled the bridges; wildlife that once dominated the area for hunting and fishing; important historical people of which many streets, schools and buildings were then named after; the produce of which the city was known for including lettuce, onions, milk, corn and tobacco; the lively downtown where they all recalled spending time with the family and friends each weekend like clockwork, and they even spoke of working and living through the Urban Renewal Act, which one guest deemed as the reason the heart of the city was destroyed.
All of the guests in attendance brought forth factual and personal recollections of the city’s thriving history that Fulton Footpaths hopes to bring forth in numerous kiosks throughout the trails.
With the city government, CDA, library and historical association as well as countless city resident’s on board for the development of the heritage trails, Jerred and Mankiewicz look forward enthusiastically to making this vision a reality for the city of Fulton.
“If we want people to move here, we’ve got to give them a reason to come. These people are doing that. This is something that could bring people here to visit or to stay,” said Mayor Woodward.
Mankiewicz feels that with industry a lost art in the city of Fulton, it is now that everyone needs to come together to reinvent this great city, just as many other small communities throughout NYS are looking to do.
“This is one of the best, positive impacts on quality of life that Fulton has seen in a long time,” said Fiumara of the Fulton CDA.
Members of the Pratt House who also help keep Fulton history alive in their local museum agree. “We are so excited for this, and that people are going to learn some history on their way. When we have students come to the Pratt House, they are always most interested in the kitchen because they have no idea what that stuff is. These kids aren’t being exposed to history, that’s why we want to see this happen,” said President of the Pratt House, Paula Rohn.
With a lot of collaborations and parties involved paired with what grantors are referring to as perfect timing, Jerred says Fulton Footpaths is “pleased with all the feedback and very encouraged” to continue their journey.
“We’ve been told by a lot of grantors that our timing is perfect. There is a lot of emphasis being put on tourism and recreational development throughout NYS so we are pleased to do this at this time,” said Mankiewicz.
If anyone else has a historical story relative to Fulton or a piece of history they find interesting, they are encouraged to message Jerred and Mankiewicz on Facebook at their Fulton Footpaths page found here.