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    Warren County Watch extra
     
    By Maury Thompson
     
     
    -- A twice-a-month column by Maury Thompson about economic development, business and quality of life in Warren County
     
    Annual Meeting Lakes to Locks Organization at Crandall Library 
     
    Empire State Trail enthusiasm
     
    Andy Beers, director of the Empire State Trail, guided board members and guests of Lakes to Locks Passage on "a virtual ride," via slide show, along the 750-mile bicycle and walking trail that will crisscross the state from Manhattan to Rouses Point, in Clinton County, and west from the Albany area to Buffalo.
     
    Beers urged the audience to start training now for bicycle and walking tour adventures, and to prepare for a new wave of tourists that will be coming to the Warren County region.
     
    "We are sprinting along to December 2020 to try to get this done," Beers said, speaking Oct. 25 at the 15th Anniversary Lake to Locks Passage annual meeting at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls.
     
    "Municipal officials are catching the vision and crying out "faster, faster, faster," not referring to the speed of travel but the speed of progress in completing the trail, a priority initiative of Governor Andrew Cuomo, said Beers, who works for the Hudson River Valley Greenway, which is administering the $200 million state project in collaboration with five state agencies.
     
    Warren County communities will be connected to the trail system via the existing Warren County Bikeway, between Lake George and Glens Falls, and the existing Feeder Canal Trail between Glens Falls and Hudson Falls.
     
    A map of the planned trail system can be viewed here.
     
    "The governor's goals for the trail system are to improve fitness for state residents, draw attention to long-standing community infrastructure and foster economic development," Beers said.
     
    A mobile and internet web site is being developed.
     
    A draft trail plan released in August encompasses 40 projects, including developing additional off-road trail between Waterford and Whitehall, developing road-side trail between Whitehall and Rouses Point, and improving the Washington County section of the Feeder Canal Trail.
     
    The draft plan can be viewed by clicking here.
     
     
    "I'm really happy with what I am hearing," said Lloyd Mott, president of Warren County Safe & Quality Biking Organization.
     
    Mott asked if Empire State Trail will have funding to improve trails that connect with the system.
     
    Beers said "Empire State Trail will be promoting connecting trails, but won't have direct funding to improve connecting trails."
     
    "We can't support you in dollars, but we are behind you in spirit," he said.
     
    "Warren County Department of Tourism is thrilled "to piggyback" with promoting the trail system," said County Tourism Director Joanne Conley.
     
    "We have the (hotel) rooms and we have the destinations," she said.
     
    Lakes to Locks Passage is a multi-county organization that plans and promotes cultural heritage and scenic tourism initiatives on a regional basis in the Champlain Valley and Saratoga area.
     
    The organization has secured nearly $5 million in scenic byway grants, which have made possible an additional $5 million in public and private investment.
     
    "It's so obvious, it's so rational, to erase boundaries of municipalities in a region," said Bill Johnston of Essex County, a founding and continuing board member.
     
    EDC Warren County President Edward Bartholomew serves on the Lakes to Locks Passage Board of Directors, and is the incoming board president.
     
    Lake to Locks Passage presented its annual Partnership Award to the Town of Bolton, Bolton Landing Chamber of Commerce and Bolton Historical Museum for the new town visitor's center and museum.
     
    A local committee started in 2011 to plan and raise funds for the Bolton Landing project in Rogers Park.
     
    "The committee chose to treat the town park, visitor center and museum as a single, united campus -- thereby creating an inviting and cohesive centerpiece for the town," said Janet Kennedy, executive director of Lakes to Locks Passage.
     
    Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover accepted the award on behalf of the town.
     
    Maury Thompson is a former newspaper reporter who retired from The Post-Star after 21 years covering the region.  He keeps his finger on the pulse of economic development, business and quality of life in Warren County by writing a twice-a-month column for EDC Warren County.
     
    The next regular Warren County Watch column will be published Oct. 27.
     
     
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