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Columns

April 15, 2013

Oneonta river walking path came from a surveyor's daydream

Leon Kalmus of Oneonta spent a lot of time surveying land near the Susquehanna River in the early 1970s around the time Interstate 88 was being planned and built in this area. What he saw along the shores of the river, he called “pristine,” and soon had an idea for some kind of walking or hiking pathway along the shores of the river in the town of Oneonta.

While Kalmus’ idea never came to fruition, it was a forerunner to what is known today as the Oneonta Susquehanna Greenway, partially completed and a continuing work in progress.

“I envisioned a very narrow piece of land, stretching for as far as we could make it go, along the riverbank,” Kalmus said recently, “and that’s why I referred to it then as a linear park. It was going to be somewhat primitive, with some crushed stone at places for the path, and low maintenance, done by volunteers and through contributions of materials.”

“The main entrance,” Kalmus continued, “was at a piece of land on lower Main Street near the river bridge,” close to the site of today’s Home Depot, which was once a transmitter site for WDOS radio. “This would have been the only purchase of land that I suggested, but that never got very far.” There would have been other entry points along the path as well.

Readers of The Daily Star first learned about the idea of a linear park on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 1975. Kalmus was then a member of the Oneonta Town Planning Board. A committee to study the feasibility of such a pathway was formed including Kalmus, Donald Sheehan and Cynthia Squires. Sheehan chaired the committee. By that time, Kalmus’ idea had been in the talking stages for a few years.

Progress was slow, as it was reported that “serious planning” and the formation of a steering committee was set to begin in January 1977.

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