UTAP a useful tool for evaluating trails

This guest post comes from Cheryl Longyear, Montezuma Town Historian and Secretary of the Friends of the Montezuma Heritage Park. The Montezuma Heritage Park and the Byron Lapp Memorial Trail have received technical assistance from PTNY since 2011 through our Healthy Trails, Healthy People Program, which is funded in-part by a grant from the New York State Department of Health Healthy Heart Program. PTNY is assisting the Town of Montezuma, the Montezuma Historical Society and the Friends group with the creation and promotion of a network of trails linking the hamlet of Montezuma with the Seneca River and several historic Erie Canal sites. This post originally appeared on the Montezuma Historical Society’s blog, the Historian’s Corner

ZUMA_UTAP-1In 2011, the Town of Montezuma received word it had been selected by Parks & Trails New York to receive technical assistance from staff through their Healthy Trails, Healthy People program. This program is aimed at helping New Yorkers develop more active communities with recreational, economic and quality of life benefits.

Proposed by the Town with support from the Cayuga County Health and Human Services Department and the Montezuma Historical Society, their assistance is helping the Town to create and promote a network of trails in Montezuma Heritage Park linking the hamlet of Montezuma with the Seneca River and several Erie Canal sites.

ZUMA_UTAP-2As the Heritage Park Design Committee worked to complete an EPF Planning Project for Heritage Park, Parks & Trails New York,  has been very helpful in responding to questions as they came up. PTNY has also helped to fund projects for the park that included developing a logo, park brochure, an interpretive historic photo portfolio and website development. A grant program, Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work & Play through the Cayuga County Health Department has assisted us with funding for signage, benches, kiosks and  supporting the Town to adopt a Complete Streets Policy for future planning to make roads and sidewalks safer for all users.

ZUMA_UTAP-3Most recently, our latest assistance was received from PTNY staff through the Universal Trail Assistance Process (UTAP). Fran Gotcsik and Jamie Meerdink came out to the Park to conduct an assessment on the Byron Lapp Memorial Trail. UTAP was developed through a national cooperative effort, involving federal and state land agencies and organizations advocating for persons with disabilities.  UTAP provides standardized, objective information on major trail conditions that affect access — grade, cross slope, surface type, obstacles, and trail width — so that everyone can decide for themselves whether a trail meets their interests and abilities.  The Federal Highway Administration, NYS Department of Health, and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation all endorse UTAP.  ZUMA_UTAP-4The accessibility-related trail condition information collected from this assessment will be of assistance to our Heritage Park Design Committee working towards creating on-site accessibility signage and will help them discover areas where trail improvements could be made to increase accessibility or address unsafe conditions.

I was amazed at thoroughness and depth of information gathered using the “tool kit” of various gauges Fran and Jamie brought with them as Stan and I covered every inch of the trail with them from High Street to Chapman Road. In September, Fran will be back to complete the rest of the trail with us from Chapman Road to the Richmond Aqueduct. Armed with Fran’s handwritten notations and measurements on a special form, Jamie returned to Albany to plug this information into their software program to give us a detailed report.  Our goal, along with Parks & Trails New York, is to increase the accessibility of outdoor trails for people with physical limitations that affect the quality of their recreational experience. PTNY ultimately would like to make trail accessibility information available on trailhead signage, websites, maps or trail guides for trails throughout New York.  Here in Montezuma with this information, we are one step closer to providing objective information about trail conditions for everyone, and better equipped to shape future construction and maintenance decisions towards increasing accessibility. THANKS, PTNY!!!




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