Downtown Connects with Nature: Ribbon-Cutting Opens Long-Awaited Scenic Bike Trail

The Chadakoin Park Trail and Bike Path
The Chadakoin Park Trail and Bike Path

Contributing Writer
Walt Pickut


“Come for the ribbon cutting,” Jamestown’s Mayor Sam Teresi said with a welcoming smile, “and bring your bike.” The Chadakoin Park Trail and Bike Path is ready for Jamestown to enjoy.

The newly completed trail stretches along the Chadakoin River from West 8th Street to Clifton Avenue at Fluvanna. The new trail is 10-foot blacktop bike and pedestrian path – including three new footbridges spanning the existing wetland drainage channels – that takes advantage of the long-abandoned track bed left by the former Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad’s (JW&NW) electric trolley car line. The old line carried its last passengers in 1947 and its last freight in 1950. Now, the Chadakoin Park Trail and Bike Path will revive that pathway crossing the same natural habitats, winding Chadakoin shorelines, woods and marshlands as it used to.

A ribbon cutting celebration to officially open the trail is slated for Friday, June 29 at 1:30 p.m. at the south end of the trail. Mayor Teresi invites everyone who can appreciate a peaceful stroll through the natural, riverside landscape, or a relaxing bike ride in the open air far from traffic, or a serious birdwatching walk to “Come on down.”

Though the trail will not officially open until Friday, hundreds of local residents have already discovered the freshly paved and landscaped path and are enjoying its many natural attractions.

John Wilbert

Built by Design

The original plan was designed to be a multi-phase project. The Phase V Greater Jamestown Riverwalk Trail project was… “Designed to create connectivity in the city with the development of new [paved] sidewalk paths, branded signage trail markers, scenic vistas of the Chadakoin River with a picnic grove, playground equipment, and informational kiosks.”

This week’s Park Trail/Bike Path opening and the scheduled July 7 ribbon cutting for the new twin bridges represent completion of two important phases of that design. One of the bridges connects the north and south shores of the Riverwalk and the other connects the Riverwalk’s north shore with Panzarella Park. The $2 million bridge project relied on $1.6 million from a Transportation Alternatives Program grant from New York State and a $400,000 local funding match.

On-Time Homecoming

Mayor Teresi’s invitation to the Riverwalk opening caps off what he has called an amazing 44-year administrative odyssey. A letter recently discovered in the city archives revealed that in 1974, a young local resident named Cindy Hedberg wrote a letter to Jamestown’s then-mayor, Stan Lundine. She asked him to please have the city officials create a scenic bike path along the river down by Chadakoin Park.

Long-overdue recognitions and appreciations will highlight Friday’s ribbon cutting, as the event’s speakers will include New York’s two-term Lt. Gov. Stan Lundine. Letter-writer, Cindy Hedberg Sorenson is also expected to attend. According to Mayor Teresi, completion of the Chadakoin Park Trail will be one more item Lundine can check off his Mayor’s “To-Do” list from 44 years ago.

Though originally planned to open in the fall of this year, Jamestown’s construction contract called for completion on Saturday, June 30th, 2018. Friday’s June 29 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will keep that promise.

Construction and landscaping was completed by City of Public Works and Park, Recreation and Conservation employees. Jeff Lehman, Jamestown’s City Director of Public Works, credits the contractors, workers and city officials with outstanding performance to bring it home on time and on target.

Tina Hetrick, Amber Bendelewski, Jennifer Wilbert

Restoring the Environment

Half of the $525,000 cost of the Riverwalk project was provided by a New York State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) Environmental Protection Fund Grant. The matching half of the funding was provided by the City of Jamestown in labor, materials and equipment.

As part of the commitment to environmental restoration, scenic overlooks – accented by decorative lighting – have been built across the water from McCrea Point and the Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association. The overlooks will afford long distance views up and down the river for birders and photographers, bikers and strollers to appreciate the Chadakoin’s unique, restored natural beauty and wildlife.

Environmental restoration, following the New York State Department of Environmental Conversation’s Wetlands Mitigation plan, includes eradication of the invasive Japanese Knotweed and Amur Honeysuckle that have crowded out plants native to the area. Native trees and shrubs are being planted along the Riverwalk Trail to reclaim the natural landscape. Path-side native grasses have been planted by Chautauqua Hydroseeding.

Bikers happy for a great new place to ride.

Jamestown Revitalization

Jamestown city officials have described the Riverwalk Path and pedestrian bridges leading to the greenspace behind the Gateway Train Station and the National Comedy Center and as a way to better connect Southside residents with downtown commerce through new pedestrian and bicycle routes. The Riverwalk Trail is eventually expected to connect the City to Chautauqua Lake.

Mayor Teresi has described these and many more recent initiatives as growing signs of Jamestown’s Renaissance, created by Jamestown’s people.

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.