FULTON — Fulton Mayor Deana Michaels, along with several members of the Fulton Common Council, on Friday cut the ribbon on a long-awaited project and paid a memorial tribute to a gentleman held in high regard for his service to the community.
In front of a crowd of nearly 100, including State Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay, R-Pulaski, on the bank of the Oswego River at Indian Point, Michaels officially opened the new 2.5-mile Pathfinder Towpath Walking Trail, which runs south along the water’s edge on the east side of the Oswego River.
Also at the ceremony, the new pier was dedicated to the project’s initiator, former Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr., who died earlier this year.
“It’s about the future of Fulton,” Michaels said. “Mayor Woodward had a vision and he really started that vision. He started that forward momentum and sometimes you don’t realize that, until now, when we’re in the moment, all the pieces come together and it all makes sense and now we can continue that. So I’m really excited that 15 years ago when this was just a conversation, now we’re truly moving it forward.”
Barclay said that while jobs are vital to a community, so is the time people spend when not at work.
“What goes hand in hand with economic development is quality of life,” Barclay said. “I can’t say enough about what Fulton has been able to do to improve the quality of life here in this city. I think this walking trail is going to go a long way to doing that.”
The assemblyman also thanked local government officials and private industry responsible for the new trail and pier with a special sentiment for the former mayor.
“There was someone here who had a vision,” Barclay said. “Before Deana and in my early days there was Mayor Woodward, who served as mayor multiple times here in Fulton, did a terrific job, and had a vision about that quality of life, and I’m so happy you’re dedicating this pier to Mayor Woodward. I can’t think of someone more worthy than him, and we miss him very much every day, not only in government but as a friend and a person.”
Beginning in 2005, the $1.1 million multi-phased project was funded in part with $811,500 from the Environmental Protection Fund and the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grants.
Michaels thanked two people she said this project could not have been realized without, the co-chairs of Fulton Footpaths and two members of the LWRP Committee.
“When you undertake a feasibility study and grant writing it takes a lot of effort and hundreds of hours. We would not be standing here and this would not have been possible without Brittney Jerred and Marie Mankiewicz. It’s a labor of love and they put in literally hundreds of hours to make that happen,” Michaels said.
The feasibility study started in 2016 provided the city with a master plan of eight walking trails and the design and construction drawings for the Pathfinder Towpath Trail.
Although Woodward sadly did not live long enough to see the completion of the Indian Point project on Friday, one can feel reasonably sure he would have been proud to see its completion from what he said in 2018. “This trail project will help the city to enhance our downtown, bring more people to Fulton, and let more people enjoy our beautiful river,” he said.