FULTON, NY – The city of Fulton was one of many Oswego County municipalities that benefited from New York State Regional Economic Development Council grant money awarded Thursday (Dec 8.)
$62.2 million was awarded to Central New York, with more than $2 million awarded specifically to Oswego County projects.
In the city of Fulton, $61,500 was awarded for a feasibility study to determine the cost of developing eight recreational trails throughout the city of Fulton as envisioned by the volunteer group, Fulton Footpaths. The trails will connect to each other as well as the city’s parks and highlight areas that work off existing trails.
The idea, originally as part of the city’s comprehensive plan has sparked the creation of the volunteer group, Fulton Footpaths led by co-chairs Brittney Jerred and Marie Mankiewicz and a number of other volunteers that make up a subcommittee devoted to the project.
Those involved are hopeful the trails will improve the quality of life in Fulton, encourage physical activity, promote tourism and spur economic development once completed.
“We are thrilled to receive word that this funding was awarded. We are grateful to the City of Fulton officials, to the mayor, the councilors, to the Regional Economic Development Council, to Fulton Community Revitalization Corporation, and to all of our elected officials and the community groups and individuals that supported this project throughout the past year,” said Fulton Footpaths Co-Chairs Marie Mankiewicz and Brittney Jerred in a press release. “This is an exciting time for Fulton and planning out the trail improvements will help position Fulton to secure future construction dollars.”
The trails intend to be paved working off of existing sidewalks and trails and complete with pedestrian lighting, while also hoping to include benches, markers and kiosks showcasing Fulton’s history, artistic murals highlighting local wildlife, and perhaps even exercise equipment stations throughout the trails.
“We imagine that the firm who completes the study will use existing sidewalks and resources wherever possible. The paving will not all be new, rather sidewalks and trails we do have will hopefully be better defined and any improvements made will need to be affordable and coordinated,” Jerred said.
However, the feasibility study and eventual construction of the trails are largely dependent on the approval of an updated Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) which a committee of city officials and volunteers have readily been working on.
“Applying for this grant for a feasibility study for the trails, we were told as part of that the city would have to update the LWRP plan, which is something the city has wanted to do and has really dove into. The LWRP plan will really lay the groundwork for the city to do a lot of things, the trails being one of those things, but really it will just allow for more grant opportunities for the future,” Jerred explained.
The LWRP committee has been working off a LWRP draft that was last edited in 2005 for the city’s waterways. The current plan will consist of the areas along the Oswego River/Canal and Lake Neatahwanta.
The committee dedicated to restructuring the city’s LWRP recently met with Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. and the Fulton Common Council to update them on the progress of the plan and prepare for a public meeting happening next week.
The six person committee is made up of Joe Fiumara, Director of Fulton Community Development Agency; Brittney Jerred and Marie Mankiewicz, founders of Fulton Footpaths; Barry Ostrander, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation; Kelley Weaver, founder of Friends of Fulton Parks; and Charles Smith, Commissioner of Department of Public Works.
Together, these six committee members have put together a presentation regarding the current progress of the city’s LWRP draft to gain public input and feedback.
“The draft that we are following from 2005 has given us a great foundation, but a lot of the information was very outdated. The plan itself is a good layout, we are just restructuring it,” said Jerred.
The first public meeting, scheduled for Tuesday (Dec 13) from 6-7 p.m. at the Fulton Municipal Building located at 141 S. First St., will provide an overview of the purpose of an LWRP, the process that it entails, and the committee’s current status in that process.
The public will receive copies of the first two updated sections of the plan, waterfront revitalization area boundaries and inventory and analysis. They will be able to review the information and provide input in hopes to create a stronger sense of community ownership of the city’s waterfront and involve all stakeholders while creating a plan to revitalize and encourage use of the waterways for economic and recreational growth.
“You know, Fulton was once referred to as ‘the city the Depression missed’ because we were so rich in industry but what a lot of people don’t know is the reason we had so much industry is because of the river. People in Fulton, they’ve never really been that interested in the river, but right up until we closed Nestles, we were pumping 10 million gallons of water a day out of Oswego River to cool the condensing machines,” Mayor Woodward told the committee. “People love the lake, but I don’t think they ever really fell in love with the river.”
With this updated LWRP and a total of three public input sessions, Fiumara said he is hopeful that love will be found through making the river more scenic and recreational.
With that, the committee is hopeful that economic development will grow right alongside recreational use.
“It’s about making the city of Fulton right for the extra money that’s out there,” Fiumara said, noting that with an updated LWRP the city will be eligible to apply for more grants through the NYS Department of State, Parks and Recreation, Department of Environmental Conservation, Canal Corporation, and more.
Committee members insist the plan will be ever evolving, hopeful for ample public input to provide a wide array of activities or ideas that are possible for the waterfront.
“They don’t have to have suggestions or ideas in order to come to the meeting, they will be able to review all the information and can provide their input after the fact. This is the first of three public meetings throughout the process, so we will always be accepting public input” said committee member, Kelley Weaver.
At the end of the process, the city will finalize an LWRP plan to submit to the Department of State for approval.
“We just want to help our city. The trails are something that can benefit everyone, and the LWRP is something that other organizations and city agencies can attach themselves to to provide countless opportunities for the city,” Jerred said.