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Genesee Valley Trail Town Initiative

Genesee Valley Greenway

What is this Initiative?

The Town of Wheatland has engaged with ten other municipalities in Southern Monroe, Livingston,

Wyoming and Allegany Counties to establish a network of Trail Town hubs along the Genesee Valley

Greenway and Genesee River corridor. The Genesee Valley Trail Town Initiative is a program that aims to boost outdoor recreation and tourism in the region, creating more resilient communities through the identification, promotion and preservation of communities’ unique recreational assets. Trail Town Programs® revitalize rural communities by growing outdoor tourism and small businesses. First launched in 2007 by the Progress Fund to help support communities along the 150 mile Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), the program now helps trails nationwide follow their lead. Using a combination of consistent trail-wide marketing, infrastructure improvements, business coaching and support, Trail Town initiatives have proven to be an effective approach for growing rural economies.

Genesee Valley Greenway

Letchworth Gateway Villages (LGV) is serving as the lead implementing organization for the Genesee Valley Trail Town Initiative in collaboration with the Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway. LGV is a municipal collaboration established to fuel economic growth and regional cooperation. The Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with the mission to assist in the development, protection, promotion, and maintenance of New York’s Genesee Valley Greenway State Park (GVGSP). The GVGSP is a 90-mile open space corridor from the Erie Canalway Trail in Rochester's Genesee Valley Park, connecting to the Town of Hinsdale located just off of Interstate Route 86 in New York’s Southern Tier. The GVGSP passes through the eastern portion of the Towns of Wheatland, Caledonia and other communities. The GVGSP is planned to eventually link other trails being developed around Western New York, including loops back to the Buffalo, New York area. The GVGSP includes a public, multi-use trail and natural and historic resources. The majority of the trail is an old railway bed that is a straight, level surface consisting of cinders, gravel and mowed grass.

What is a Trail Town?

A Trail Town is a community through which a trail passes, embraces the trail as an important

community resource, promotes the trail to its residents and supports trail users with services.

Trails can be valuable community assets and attractive destinations for visitors, drawing them into

neighboring communities and stimulating local businesses through spending on meals, lodging and


Why Outdoor Recreation and Tourism?

As demonstrated in many regions and communities across the United States, outdoor recreation and

tourism can be a significant catalyst to stimulate local economies by creating a “virtuous cycle”

of economic benefits, including:

  • improving the quality of life for local residents,

  • making communities more attractive to potential employees and businesses,

  • recognizing historic villages, small-town lifestyles, homegrown entrepreneurs, open spaces, protected environments as key assets critical to economic sustainability,

  • building stronger, sustainable tax bases for municipal long term sustainability.

Outdoor recreation and tourism can be a vehicle for re-imagining and re-framing a rural economy by

further capitalizing on the region’s unique natural, cultural and heritage assets, while also

addressing a number regional challenges such as:

  • attracting and retaining younger residents,

  • helping to evolve and sustain dairy and agriculture industries,

  • building new place-based entrepreneurial ventures tied to natural environment,

  • providing critical employment pathways for youth.

What does the Trail Town Initiative mean to the Wheatland Community?

The Genesee Valley Trail Town Initiative provides a significant opportunity to achieve a potential “defining moment” in the evolution of our community, facilitating long term vitality and sustainability for generations to come. There are several “success enabling factors” that collectively can help facilitate the realization of this vision, many of which have not been available during prior community development endeavors.

This Initiative is aligned with long conceived strategic objectives to better capitalize on the natural assets of the Wheatland Community, in particular the GVGSP. Most recently, the Town of Wheatland Strategic Plan sets forth the following key objectives in support of community directions towards long term, sustainable community financial vitality coupled with enabling infrastructure:

  • fostering sustainable community economic development while simultaneously continuing to maintain a small town, rural atmosphere that supports high quality of life experiences for residents, tourists and visitors;

  • championing community prosperity through vigorous support of outdoor recreation and tourism for the benefit of local business scale and revenue generated from visitors;

  • providing superior enterprise level infrastructure that makes it easy and safe for residents, tourists and visitors to find, utilize and enjoy Wheatland’s assets.

Collaborating across the region

This initiative strengthens our community's links with the greater Genesee Valley which has become a growing hub for outdoor recreation. Wheatland is ideally situated to take advantage of this growing trend. Collaborating with like communities as part of a broader regional presence provides the Wheatland Community with several high value opportunities, such as:

  1. Broader visibility of community assets facilitating more exposure of the Wheatland Community’s unique experiential amenities and associated service businesses within the Genesee Valley Region and beyond, taking advantage of shared regional marketing platforms, like the Explore Genesee Valley Interactive Map and other types of bundled marketing and advertising. Experiential oriented assets in the Wheatland Community include, but are not limited to: the GVGSP, the Genesee Country Village & Museum, destination agricultural businesses, Oatka Creek, and campgrounds.

  2. Leveraging community investment and business development through economies of scale, networking and access to like experiences and best practices. In addition, the LGV is funded to provide small business coaching and support, including digital transformation and adaptation to new economic realities in a post-pandemic environment.

  3. Expanding potential funding opportunities providing the ability to compete for funding not previously accessible due to combination of approach and resource scale.

The Genesee Valley Trail Town Initiative is built on a proven model of success (does not require

starting from scratch). It is based on real-life community experiences and sustainable successes

from various regions located across the United States. In addition to existing experiences and best

practices, there is a well-defined process in conjunction with an abundance of other material and

resources to capitalize on. There is also an increased focus on the development of long public

trails in New York State, including significant investment into the Genesee Valley Greenway and

ultimately the potential of completing the loop from Buffalo to the south and connecting into the


There is a significant amount of existing Wheatland Community specific material that was previously developed in support of the key objectives defined above. Much of this material is still highly relevant today and can be applied in support of this initiative (again, not starting from scratch).

How does this all work?

The Town of Wheatland has formed a “Trail Town Committee” with a broad base of community representation, experience and skillsets that has begun to engage as part of this initiative. The Genesee Valley Trail Town Initiative is following a well-defined process employing the following sequenced activities:

  1. Adopt – Community commitment and Trail Town Committee establishment.

  2. Identify – Identify trails, parks, businesses and other community assets.

  3. Assess – Evaluate physical infrastructure, needed amenities and the visitor experience.

  4. Develop – Form new ventures, strategies, destination capacity and action plans.

  5. Build – A region-wide network of like-minded communities working toward shared goals.

  6. Promote – Publicize the Trail Town region through consistent trail-wide branding and marketing.

Trail Town Committee - Progress Items

1. Established supporting infrastructure for the Committee

  • An online file share was created using the Town of Wheatland google account which accessible by all members of the committee.

  • An email reflector was created to facilitate easy email communications among the committee members, the email reflector and associated address was provided by the Greater Wheatland Area Chamber of Commerce.

2. Completed a detailed “Trail Town Self-Assessment”.

  • The self-assessment provides a view of the Wheatland Community as observed through the eyes of a visitor. Facilitates evaluation of critical needs such as safety, access, wayfinding and whether the town has the business and amenities to attract and sustain trail users.

3. Created survey promotion and data collection plan.

  • Created as part of a workshop with the Trail Town Initiative leaders, this plan identifies key community assets, including: attractions and visitor centers, clubs and organizations, hospitality businesses, service businesses and events. Develop plans for promotion and marketing of these assets (i.e., social media, postcards, rack-cards, QR codes, intercept surveys).

4. Further developed community branding and marketing strategies.

  • Developed a brand based on the broader regional initiative coupled with data from the self-assessment and other resources to be used to promote the Wheatland Community. Reviewed approach and content with the paid Trail Town program consultants, high grades on the developed brand for the Wheatland Community:

"Gateway to the Genesee Country"

  • This brand leverages the strategic geographical location of the Wheatland Community with respect to the GVGSP and the rest of the Genesee Valley Region associated with the Trail Town Initiative in conjunction with the “Genesee Country” experience associated with our community driven by the GCV&M among other attractions and amenities. A one page branding statement was developed for the purpose of facilitating consistent marketing and promotion of the brand and associated recognition.

  • The brand has been embraced by the Greater Wheatland Area Chamber of Commerce and is being promoted through their respective marketing channels.

5. Created an initial "Explore Genesee Valley" interactive map “Landing Page” for Wheatland Community.

  • A large number of quality images were collected that represent the Wheatland Community, its attractions and amenities.

  • Developed the “Landing Page” content in alignment with the branding statement. Utilized inviting textual descriptions of the area’s attractions and amenities. Supported the text with welcoming images and links to area attractions and amenities.

6. Identified candidate area businesses for inclusion on the "Explore Genesee Valley" interactive map.

  • Working in conjunction with the GWA Chamber of Commerce, individual meetings with various local businesses are being set up and conducted to facilitate possible inclusion on the interactive map.

Trail town Committee - Plans

1. Complete a bike around assessment of the Wheatland Community.

The purpose of this activity is to help assess the readiness and needs of the community in support of biking activities. The intent for the riders is to get a hands-on feel for viability of the community’s trails, supporting services and amenity need gaps. Candidate routes will be selected, riders will compare experiences, consolidate acquired data for analysis and recommendations.


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