Odessa-Hector Rail Trail Project: Village of Odessa, New York

Odessa-Hector Rail Trail in Village of Odessa New York

At JHA, listening is a critical aspect of consulting. In the case of the Odessa-Hector Rail Trail, careful listening made it clear that Village of Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer and his team required more than just a boundary survey—they needed an ally to help them through unfamiliar territory. VP and Director of Environmental Services Travis Long explains that “It was nice to be able to provide reassurance to the mayor of what steps would need to be taken from a constructability perspective. Mayor Messmer had the basic foundation for an incredibly successful project, with just a little TLC and maintenance. So being a phone-a-friend, or just being a supportive professional to lend advice was part of what we offered.”

Travis describes how JHA’s versatility benefited the Village of Odessa, NY, in their quest to convert an abandoned rail line into a trail for leisure activities. “Working with clients is always just listening and talking. One afternoon, being in the field to talk about a water system project, Mayor Messmer asked what other services we offer. It led to a conversation on a recent piece of property that they had acquired for development into a rail trail project. The village needed a survey to be done. We fostered that relationship by providing a boundary survey. For the village, it was getting this rail trail project up and operational.”

whitetail deer on the odessa-hector rail trail in fall

Mayor Messmer is adamant that JHA’s support for the rail project was driven in large part by a devotion to public service, and not just the bottom line. “The reason JHA is involved in the rail trail is because JHA saw the trail as a great thing for the people. And because they care about the people and not just the projects, they jumped on it immediately to help us out.”

Despite JHA playing a relatively modest role in the creation of the rail trail (which itself is modest in terms of public infrastructure projects), the trail is an example of how even smaller projects are considered important to the JHA team. According to Travis, “the size, the scope, the magnitude of the project doesn’t matter to JHA. We serve each project in the same manner and same method, welcoming projects large and small.”

Odessa-Hector Rail Trail Sign

The Odessa-Hector Rail Trail is having a huge impact. “The trail project has been a game changer in the Village of Odessa,” says Mayor Messmer. “It has been a game changer in Schuyler County, and frankly in New York State. It is amazing to all of us in the Village of Odessa how that trail has attracted people from as far as Canada and midwestern states to come and hike that new trail. And I know that the businesses in the village felt the economic impact.”

For JHA’s Travis Long, providing infrastructure to enhance the lives of his fellow citizens is beyond satisfying. “To be able to offer to a community a several-mile-long beautiful scenic trail to walk, to bike ride, to ride horses on, doesn’t happen in every community. To have that right in your backyard for young and old alike to enjoy is truly a blessing. To have the Village of Odessa be able to enjoy this unique opportunity is really, really rewarding.”

Odessa-Hector Rail Trail Project Update

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