Backbone now owned by local township; bridge over South Nation River awaited
Nation Valley News
CRYSLER — Crysler residents kicked off the first weekend of May by hoofing it in celebration of their community trail system — a network now awaiting only the anticipated arrival of an army bridge to cross the South Nation River.
Dignitaries like MP Guy Lauzon were on hand as the Crysler Fun Run – Plaisir de Courir got underway May 6 — drawing approximately 100 runners who looped around the streets of the community.
Along the way, many stopped to enter the head of the trail on the north side of the river, off County Rd. 13.
“It’s a good thing to promote the trails and for the people to see the work the Crysler Citizen Committee (CCC) has been doing,” explained CCC Chair Mike Lapp as runners passed by during the event that served to inaugurate the trail for the season. “We wanted to mark the opening of the trail [this season] with a new event,” he said of the first Fun Run.
He suggested it was likely to become a future annual fundraiser to assist the CCC with the trail system’s upkeep.
The Crysler trail has existed for a few years already, but the opening of the 2017 season was special: The main backbone of the trail now belongs to the local municipality, the Township of North Stormont, which finally acquired the old New York Central Railroad bed from Bell Alliant earlier this year.
Lapp recounted that the CCC began maintaining the first sections of trail seven years ago. But he said the actual idea of preserving the local NYCR throughway as public domain actually began to take shape 20 years ago during regional discussions connected with the development of the Trans Canada Trail. He and Lorraine Bourdeau began attending meetings set up by the then-general manager of South Nation Conservation, Dennis O’Grady, who used his position to persuade the American landowner to not sell off chunks of the old railroad piecemeal. Ultimately, it was sold to Bell Alliant in one piece, as a communications corridor. That company still retains a right of way now that the land is in township hands.
“It was Dennis O’Grady that saved this,” he said. “He assured us that it would stay that way [open to the public].”
CCC wound up “assembling a lot of smart people” when it forged ahead with trail development less than a decade ago.
Lapp added that linking the trail over the South Nation River — where a NYCR railway bridge once stood — is the next impending improvement. He’s working with a Crysler-based military officer who has a line on a World War II era portable bridge — currently unused in London, Ontario — that’s supposed to be affixed to the remaining abutments on either side of the river.
“Seven hundred soldiers will show up for a day and pretend we’re at war,” he enthused, adding they will install the future pedestrian bridge out in cantilevered sections during that quick timeframe. A date for the work isn’t yet know, but Lapp remains optimistic it might happen soon.
The CCC jointly organized the May 6 Fun Run with the Optimist Club of Crysler, the Centre de santé communautaire de l’Estrie (CSCE), Mayfair Craft Wines and the township.
Competitors had their choice of two timed races (6-km and 10-km versions) along with a 3-km family race that wasn’t timed. Each received a medal in the end.
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