ONEONTA _ A grant application to complete a new section of the Oneonta Susquehanna Greenway was denied last week by the state.

The city requested $200,000 from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to be matched with grant funding on hand. The money was intended to fund a recreational trail between Interstate 88 and the Susquehanna River between exits 13 and 14.

"What we were planning on doing was to put down the base and culverts," Third Ward Alderman Erik Miller said Thursday.

But Miller said the vision is not dead.

"It means we have to work a little harder," Miller said.

The greenway exists as a two-mile loop in Susquehanna River Park and a path around Damaschke Field. There are also unofficial trails in the New Island area between exits 15 and 16.

The stretch along Interstate 88 is intended to provide a link between Susquehanna River Park on Silas Lane to Neahwa Park in the heart of the city. A path between the city and the Silas Lane Municipal Complex would allow trail users to walk or bike to Susquehanna River Park from Neahwa Park.

"It is pivotal to finish that section," Miller said.

The reasons for the denial of the grant application, submitted to the state last fall, were not released.

Planning for the Greenway got under way about 10 years ago, and the initiative has so far relied largely on volunteer work and grant funding.

The city has spent about $100,000 of a $325,248 grant from the state Department of Transportation, mostly on engineering and other studies. The remainder of that grant was to have been applied with the recently denied grant to construct the trial, according to Miller.

"Now we are still sitting on the money," he said.

The city will re-examine other grant opportunities and also look to see if volunteers can have a role in the construction of that section of the trail, according to Miller.

The existing Greenway trails are maintained primarily through volunteer efforts, coordinated by the Oneonta Susquehanna Greenway Committee.

Although there is not much volunteers, working by hand, can do for the two-mile section, Miller said it may be possible for area vocational programs that work with heavy equipment to help.

Miller said the city is still at risk of losing the initial DOT funding if progress can't be made, but that risk is less than it was a year ago, after the city negotiated with the state about the Greenway's future.

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