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State cuts grant for St. Lawrence County trails

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CANTON — A $500,000 state grant for the St. Lawrence County multi-use trail has been cut by half.

“Somebody just made a mistake,” said Legislator Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler, the Board of Legislators’ representative on an advisory committee for the trail system. “Somebody got the wrong piece of information and then they had to correct it.”

The grant started out at $500,000, but it was pulled in 2012 by Empire State Development just as the county was preparing to buy equipment.

A $250,000 grant through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council came through earlier this year.

The county received notice in April that the grant was boosted to $500,000, but the additional amount turned out to be erroneous, according to Debbie A. Christy, the county’s trail coordinator.

“We’ll make the most of the money we received,” she said.

The cut does not mean the county will not be in line for additional funding.

“If you do a good job with the first part, you have a good case for more funding,” Mr. MacKinnon said.

The $250,000 that was cut was intended to buy equipment and to pay for a bridge below Rainbow Falls Dam in Parishville.

The need for a bridge was highlighted March 4, when Robert G. Campbell, 78, Norwood, and Robert P. Whalen, 87, Canton, crashed through ice and drowned while trying to cross the reservoir.

“We’ll have to look at other funding” to build the bridge, Ms. Christy said.

The grant that has been approved was used to build 50 miles of the trail in the northeastern section of the county, from Parishville to the Franklin County line, that will open after hunting season.

The Board of Legislators agreed Tuesday to intervene in a lawsuit brought by six Colton residents against the town, appealing a local law permitting all-terrain vehicle travel on two segments of town roads that would be part of the trail.

The county was not named in that suit, but legislators felt it had a significant interest in the outcome.

Overall, the trail uses existing roadways, such as logging trails that are wide and graveled, but generally avoids paved roads.

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