Delaware Greenway passes senate unanimously

By TOM KANE

RIVER VALLEY — The New York State Senate unanimously passed legislation authorizing the creation of an Upper Delaware River Greenway.

The announcement came on July 1.

The measure, sponsored by Senator John Bonacic, amends the Environmental Conservation Law to create, upon local approval, the Upper Delaware River Greenway consisting of New York communities that border the Upper Delaware River.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther has sponsored similar legislation in the Assembly, which has not be brought up for a vote.

Bonacic said he expected the legislature to reconvene before the year’s end and said, “I hope the assembly takes this matter up then.”

Governor Pataki is expected to sign the Delaware Greenway legislation since he has worked to expand greenway benefits along the Hudson River, has developed the Niagara River Greenway and is now focusing greenway efforts along the Erie Canal, Bonacic said.

The enactment of the greenway legislation would provide state funding and technical assistance to aid eligible localities along the river in their recreational, planning and beautification efforts.

To date, eight Delaware River communities have enacted resolutions in support of the bill. The Towns of Fremont in Sullivan County and Hancock in Delaware County have not as yet supported the measure.

“I think it’s a good sign that the senate approved it unanimously,” said Town of Tusten Supervisor Ben Johnson. “We river towns need all the help that we can get. The money to support our planning and other efforts will help us promote the tourist industry that is so vital to our river towns.’

Johnson liked the fact that a town could opt out of the greenway if it did not find it consonant to its goals and objectives.

The Delaware River Greenway legislation is modeled after the Hudson River Valley Greenway that has been in existence for over a decade. The Hudson Greenway has over 200 member communities all of which have benefited from its Greenway designation. The designation has allowed for state funding to be earmarked to those member communities.

None of the communities who have joined the Hudson Valley Greenway have dropped out.