Neahwa Park adds another attraction with a June 16 groundbreaking for updates to the Mill Race segment of the popular Oneonta Susquehanna Greenway – a transformational project that will see the section paved and accessible and, supporters hope, an attraction for residents and would-be residents alike.
The new paved trail will connect Neawha Park, Catella Park, and the trails available on New Island – a “critical link,” said OSG’s Donna Vogler. “It’s gratifying to see this section paved and accessible to all.”
A $50,000 grant from the Future for Oneonta Foundation kickstarted the project, an improvement in the City of Oneonta’s Comprehensive Plan since 2000. The FOF donation proved crucial to the 2022 upgrade.
“This has been one of my dreams for a long time,” said Alan Cleinman, the newly-installed chairman of the Future for Oneonta Foundation. “Making this accessible to everyone is so important.”
“This is not a foundation project,” he said. “All the credit goes to the Susquehanna Greenway committee for their vision and hard work for so many years. We’ve worked with the City of Oneonta to help pull this off. We’re just the catalyst for change, and that’s what FOF wants to be for all of Oneonta.”
The paving project – which Mr. Cleinman says could be completed within the next 30 days – will render the Mill Race Trail compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and far more attractive to area bicyclists. The trail runs along Mill Race – a narrow canal created in 1806 when sawmill owners James and John McDonald diverted the Susquehanna River to power their tools. Their success gave Oneonta its original name – McDonald’s Mills.
The Foundation hopes the new project will help Oneonta grow, just like the original Mill Race.
“This kind of transformative support is what drives FOF,” Mr. Cleinman said. “Hopefully the citizens of Oneonta will get behind this and all the other projects and activities taking place.”
“Name a city in North America with an airport, and I’ve been there,” said Mr. Cleinman, an Oneonta resident for some 40 years. “Oneonta is a very, very special place. The Future for Oneonta Foundation is here to support the projects and programs that keep us moving forward and growing. We need to attract people to come and live here, we need to stop younger people from moving away. That’s a big project.”
Walking along the trail as its improvements begin, Mr. Cleinman said, “It’s projects like this that will add to a city that already has a great quality of life.”