Today, I went to the grand opening of the West River Multi-Use Trail here in Grand Island. The trail is eight miles long and it connects Beaver Island State Park with Buckhorn Island State Park. The views of the river are bright and colorful, during the day or at sunset, during summer or winter. The trail is wonderful, offering spectacular views of the river. It is truly a thing of beauty, and I don’t think that it’s an exaggeration to call it a pathway to happiness.
Here are some of the things that were said at the grand opening: “You can now ride a bicycle from the Pennsylvania border to the Adirondacks or New York City.”
From Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray: “Eighty percent of North America’s fresh water is flowing by this island. Nearly 25 percent of the world’s fresh water is flowing by this island. That is a resource more precious than gold, more precious than oil, and more precious than anything.”
“We’re going to have Grand Island kids learn to ride bikes on this path and that’s a wonderful thing. And I want to say one more thing:
We are a family here on Grand Island. We have to be respectful of the neighbors here. When we come over here, we’re going to be guests of these neighbors and we have to make sure that we look after our dogs and we have to make sure that we look after our kids and that we don’t leave garbage here because these are our neighbors. And we have to remember that, in all of these things, we gather as a community and, really, as a broader family so that we can accomplish great things here.”
“Thank you very much. I look forward to many summers and falls and beautiful moments walking and biking along this waterfront. “
From Eric Fielbelkorn, president of the Grand island Chamber of Commerce: “ecotourism… we’re working at the chamber… we’re working with the Greenway Commission… we’re working with State Parks… we’re working with our Economic Development Advisory Board members. It is a way to bring dollars to the island without bringing industry and smokestacks, the things that we don’t want to happen. I think that it’s important… and Nate mentioned it… not everyone was in agreement at the beginning, and most big projects work that way.
It’s really important as we steward this land and this waterfront that these neighbors have had a lot of time to think about this, and I think that we need to be respectful and make sure that we work in harmony and have this project go forward so that it becomes a gem.”
from Teddy Roosevelt (quotation offered by Eric Fiebelkorn): “The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.”