I. What is a ‘greenway’?
Charles Little, author of “Greenways for America”, calls a greenway “linear open space along a natural corridor (river; stream valley; ridge line) or along a converted railroad bed, canal, scenic road, or other route.“
According to the National Park Service, greenway corridors are recognized for environmental protection, recreation values, and aesthetic appearances. They also have the potential to create jobs, enhance property values, expand and attract local businesses, increase tax revenues, decrease local government expenditures, and promote community.
II. How was the land acquired?
The Genesee Valley Greenway follows the towpath of the former Genesee Valley Canal (1840-1878) and Pennsylvania Railroad, Rochester Branch (1882-1963). In 1963, RG&E purchased portions of this corridor.
It later sold sections to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) became involved as co-sponsor of a federal grant that was used to acquire additional land, expanding the corridor north through Livingston County and south to Hinsdale.
III. How did the Greenway get its start?
New York Parks and Conservation Association (NYPCA) introduced the idea in 1991 after it first established interest among local government officials, user groups, environmentalists, and local businesses.
Guided by a 40-member steering committee and a NYPCA Local Coordinator, individual sections of the trail opened for public recreational use in 1992.
IV. A Public-Private Partnership
The Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway grew out of the interest and enthusiasm generated by initial trail development efforts. Incorporated in 1993, it has since devoted its efforts to developing additional owned miles and maintaining existing miles of open (or usable) trail.
FOGVG also preserves and interprets historic and natural resources along the Greenway, and develops communications, programs, activities, and community partnerships to stimulate increased use and enjoyment.
A partnership between FOGVG, OPRHP, and DEC began in 1994 when these entities co-authored a successful $2.1 million federal Transportation Enhancement grant. Each partner contributed unique and important resources to the Greenway.
V. The Strength of Volunteers
FOGVG is governed by an 8 to15 member Board of Directors and an effort is made to have representatives from the entire geographic length of the Greenway. Participants in the Adopt-a-Trail program provide maintenance and oversight for open sections of trail. Volunteers build and install trail enhancements such as kiosks, mileposts and benches. They also assist during work sessions on the trail, on outreach projects requiring special skills, and with information tables at various events.