The 8th annual Chemung Riverfest in Elmira June 9th used a river paddle, bands and food to promote more recreation along the river.
There are plans for many more recreational options along the river in the works. The bands, educational exhibits and food are all just bait to get people coming to the Chemung River. The Riverfest featured a boat paddle from Big Flats to the Grove Street boat launch. Participants say they wish more people realized what’s hiding behind the levees.
“They don’t really look at it as a recreation something for recreation in the area,” said Doug Daly, who took part in the paddle. “Hopefully someday it will be an even bigger part of the community.”
“I think the river can do a lot to improve the local quality of life: tourism, the economy,” said Jim Pfiffer, an organizer and executive director of Friends of the Chemung River Watershed. “We just have to realize it’s there. We just have to make use of it and that’s exactly what this riverfest does.”
The riverfest was hosted by the near Westside Neighborhood Association with Friends of the Chemung River watershed. But this isn’t the only way they want to promote the river.
Pfiffer says there are lot of plans for new or improved trails in the area including the Lackawanna Trail, which currently runs from Wegman’s in Elmira to behind Kennedy Valve. “The trail will continue all the way down I-86 to the Lowman crossover,” said Pfiffer. “So it will be seven miles long. An urban trail and a rural trail.”
Pfieffer says he’s working with the State and County to finish that by next year. There are also plans for a mile long trail behind the CVS facility near Chemung and new boat launches along the river in Steuben County.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Bruce Payne. “I think a lot more people would use the river. And it’s cleaned up quite a bit.” That’s just one more idea for the river and a hope that more people will take the bait.
The cost of the Lackawanna trail extension is $450,000. 60 percent of that is being paid for by the federal government. 40 percent will come from the city of Elmira.