New report summarizes Brockport’s activity as the first Empire State Trail Town, and outlines recommendations for village to harness visitation to the Erie Canalway Trail to support and advance local tourism and the outdoor recreation economy
Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Canal Corporation recently announced the release of the Empire State Trail Town Action Plan for the Village of Brockport. The plan is designed to provide Brockport with concrete recommendations and strategies that the community can implement to capitalize on the growing outdoor recreation economy and enhance quality of life for its residents.
In early 2022, the Village of Brockport was selected as the “pilot community” to launch the Empire State Trail Town program. The Empire State Trail Town program was established by Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation to showcase the value of the Empire State Trail as an economic driver and a catalyst for community building for trailside communities.
With a long history of bicycle and pedestrian advocacy, a vibrant main street just off the Empire State Trail, and a welcome center for canal and trail users, Brockport demonstrated many of the characteristics of a trail town from the start. Participating in the program offered the village an opportunity to reflect on how these assets could serve as a means to increase trail-related tourism and visitation, and what changes could be made to improve the bicyclist and pedestrian experience in the community and along the trail.
PTNY worked closely with the village through an intensive six-month process to evaluate existing conditions, develop recommendations and strengthen community capacity so that work could continue beyond 2022. Through a community survey, public listening session, and on-the-ground assessment, PTNY found that Brockport’s strengths lie in its dedicated residents and community groups, public events, and high-quality amenities and services for trail users. This research also identified the room to develop stronger relationships between businesses and the trail, enhance on-road bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and improve promotion of the town and its resources through physical signage and through social media and other electronic media.
To help the Village keep moving toward its long-term goals, PTNY proposed a set of eleven recommendations. Six of these identified improvements and modifications to physical infrastructure, and five sought to address promotion, programming, and policies in the village. Key recommendations for strengthening Brockport’s ties to the trail included:
- Establishing a gateway at the Main Street trailhead,
- Reimagining the canalfront and some of the vacant properties as a bike and pedestrian-friendly hub,
- Developing a bicycle and pedestrian wayfinding plan for the trail and community,
- Providing online resources to help trail users plan their visits,
- Building up Brockport’s business community’s ties to the trail, and
- Hosting more activities or events on the trail to continue building community around active recreation.
As part of its designation as an Empire State Trail Town, the Village received a promotional Trail Town landing page on Parks & Trails New York’s www.CycleTheErieCanal.com website to help visitors find information about the first Empire State Trail Town and discover all it has to offer. Now live, the page provides information about what makes the Village unique, its most notable festivals, and other essential visitor information like parking, services, and amenities. The webpage also includes an interactive map of the Village to help trail users plan their visits.
With this action plan in hand and new promotional resources at its disposal, the Village of Brockport is poised to capitalize on its designation as the first Empire State Trail Town and take full advantage of the Empire State Trail/Erie Canalway Trail as a destination for dynamic visitors from around the world and a valued community resource for residents.
More information about the Empire State Trail Town program and the Brockport Action Plan are available on Parks & Trails New York’s website.