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Dunkirk, NY — The Welch Trail, located in the Village of Westfield, is finishing up construction and is near completion. In 2015, the Town of Westfield received a $200,000 grant through the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation to go towards the $312,250 project with the assistance of the Westfield Development Corporation and the Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Development.

The Welch Trail is a non-motorized, shared-use recreational trail that is approximately 1.25 miles long. The trail is being developed along a former historic trolley bed and will provide the public with an access point to Chautauqua Creek, which was previously inaccessible. In addition, the Welch trail will connect downtown users to an existing greenspace and baseball field. Once completed, the trail will include an overlook area and other amenities along the trail such as benches and picnic tables. The primary uses for the trail include: walking, jogging, cycling, inline skating, snowshoeing, and cross-county skiing. At present, the Village of Westfield has no public access to Chautauqua Creek, which this project will provide.

Previous planning efforts have helped lead the way for the development of the Welch Trail. The Chautauqua County Comprehensive Plan identified the desire of residents to conserve natural resources and connect natural and cultural resources, while creating opportunities for healthy lifestyles and economic development. The Chautauqua County Greenway Plan, which was a subsequent plan of the Comprehensive Plan, evaluated opportunities to achieve these goals and developed strategies to implement a series of potential projects.

One of the recommendations proposed in the Greenway Plan, is the development of a shared-use trail from Barcelona Harbor in the Town of Westfield to the Chautauqua institution in the Town of Chautauqua County. The Barcelona to Chautauqua Institution (B2CI) Trail is currently in the process of being implemented and the Welch Trail is one segment of the planned 14-mile shared use corridor. The Welch Trail’s connection to the planned B2CI trail will become a recreational asset for not only the Village and Town of Westfield, but for the region as a whole.

The Chautauqua County Land Bank also played a key role in securing this funding by leveraging the cost of demolishing the dilapidated Portage Inn as the local match. The Village of Westfield was also able to provide in-kind contributions to assist with the demolition of the Portage Inn.

The Town of Westfield was able to provide the property for this joint venture as well as the expertise of the Highway Department to construct the scenic walkway.