Malta seeks funds for trail work

The Malta Town Board has authorized the town to seek a state Department of Transportation grant in the amount of $1 million to fund the extension of the Zim Smith Trail to Route 9.

The unanimous vote came at a Friday, June 27, midday meeting of the board. Councilwoman Tara Thomas was unable to make the meeting.

The Zim Smith Trail covers 8.5 miles and stretches from Ballston Spa to Halfmoon, passing through the Towns of Ballston, Malta, Clifton Park and the Village of Round Lake.

Parts of the trail from East Line Road to Round Lake are closed due to the ongoing construction of a bypass and installation of the Saratoga County water line. The proposed project would run the trail along the Northway corridor to the Malta Trolley Line, currently owned by the Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature (PLAN) group.

According to Julia Stokes, Chairwoman of Saratoga PLAN, the connection would require about half a mile of trail. It would eventually be linked to the six miles of public trails planned for the Luther Forest Technology Campus, then all the way to the Saratoga Battlefield.

"We're talking about the potential for an off-road trail system that runs from north to south through the county," said Stokes. "It's a remarkable opportunity for Saratoga County to develop a trail system."

Saratoga PLAN has wanted to connect the Zim Smith Trail to their trolley line, but when it came time to get a DOT grant, the town had to step in.

"We came to find out that Saratoga PLAN needed a sponsor," said Malta's Director of Parks and Recreation, Audrey Ball. "A nonprofit can't accept federal money."

If granted, 20 percent of the grant would have to be matched. Stokes said that Saratoga PLAN has been in discussions with a number of different groups and are confident they could raise the matching funds. She declined to name specific organizations.

The town will not be obligated to accept the grant if it is approved. Further action would be required to accept or deny it after the DOT's decision comes back, an event Supervisor Paul Sasuville estimated for December.""

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