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Extra parking to lift Elm Ridge trail system

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    The entrance to the Elm Ridge Wild Forest Escarpment Trail parking lot in Windham.
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    Construction to expand the Elm Ridge Wild Forest Escarpment Trail parking lot in Windham.
August 8, 2018 11:15 pm

WINDHAM — Expansion of a parking lot on Route 23 in Windham will handle an overflow of vehicles driven by visitors using the Elm Ridge Trail System for mountain biking, town officials said Wednesday.

The lot, near Cross Road, is the main entrance to the trail system and was enlarged two years ago, but another expansion is needed, Windham Area Recreation Foundation President Nick Bove said. Eighty percent of users start the trail at the Route 23 lot.

“It’s just obviously indicative of the popularity of the trail system,” Bove said. “You go there any nice sunny weekend and it’s just packed.”

State Senators James L. Seward, R-51, and George Amedore Jr., R-46, previously secured a $500,000 award to be put in the 2015-16 state budget for projects supporting and enhancing recreation, tourism and economic development, including the Windham project, Catskill Watershed Corporation Education Coordinator Diane Galusha said. The organization is serving as the administrator of the $500,000.

“We’ve just stepped in to try and provide an expeditious way to get the funding directly,” Galusha said.

During the organization’s July 9 board meeting, a contractor bid of $63,427 was awarded to LaFever Excavating, Inc., of Bovina Center, Galusha said.

Construction has begun on the parking lot, Bove said, but he could not give a date for completion.

“They’re knee-deep into it right now,” he said.

The foundation is looking to have additional parking lots in Windham that could help distribute vehicles over a wider area on busy days, Bove said. Some of the lots could be on private land and the foundation will work with landowners to develop them.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is the land manager of the trail system, but the foundation steps in to maintain trails, clear them of fallen trees and help ease drainage as needed, Bove said.

The foundation has worked closely with the DEC to gain its trust and show reliability, he added.

“WARF has stepped up and said, ‘Hey, we will advocate for these trails, but we will be a partner with them,’” he said. “We’ll even do trail reroutes.”

The foundation has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the trail system, including labor and the bulk of the materials, Bove said.

“We’ve built literally 25 miles of beautiful, sustainable mountain bike trails that hold year after year,” he said. “That’s a testament to our trail builders.”

The trail system is built to handle several recreational activities including mountain biking, walking and cross-country skiing, Bove said.

“It’s really inclusive, not exclusive,” he said. “It’s not too steep for a beginner and there’s enough entertainment for any skill level.”

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.