NELSON — On Sunday, Nov. 5, the Town of Nelson and the Erieville-Nelson Heritage Society (ENHS) presented Peter Radosta with the Norman Odell Citizen of the Year Award, which is bestowed annually on a Nelson resident who has made outstanding contributions to the town through his or her volunteer work.
Radosta, who resides in the hamlet of Erieville, is the founder and president of the Friends of Stoney Pond (FROSTY), a non-profit organization that exists to foster year-round outdoor recreation throughout Madison County. He is also a past member of the Town of Nelson Zoning Board of Appeals, a past director of the Wanderers Rest Humane Association, and a past president and the current director of the Partnership for Community Development in Hamilton.
According to Citizenship Award Committee Chairman Marge Lyon, Radosta was nominated for the 2023 award for his volunteer work at Stoney Pond State Forest in Erieville and for helping to transform winter outdoor recreation in Nelson and the Cazenovia area.
Radosta started working to improve Stoney Pond several years ago after recognizing that a decade of neglect had left the trail network overgrown and nearly unusable.
He initiated some informal trail rehabilitation efforts in 2017 and then approached the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to enter into a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement for trail maintenance and overall stewardship of the 16-mile trail network.
Radosta and his wife, Karen Storne, formed FROSTY in 2018 to operate as the stewardship organization for the DEC Volunteer Stewardship Program and started clearing and preparing trails for hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking. Under Radosta’s leadership, volunteers also built walkways over muddy trails and constructed a classic wooden lean-to.
Once the trail network was reestablished, the DEC issued FROSTY a special permit to enable mechanized snow grooming in the state forest, which has brought countless families outdoors and onto the trails during the winter months.
Radosta and Storne invested in equipment and tools for year-round trail maintenance and snow grooming, and a pole barn was built for equipment storage.
In 2021, FROSTY expanded its reach by offering services and volunteers to the Cazenovia area.
FROSTY has partnered with several local organizations, including the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation (CPF), Lorenzo State Historic Park, Meier’s Creek Brewing Company, Madison County Distillery, and The Shoppes at Johnny Appleseed, to provide groomed trails for community use. According to Radosta, FROSTY will be stationing dedicated grooming equipment at Lorenzo this coming winter for volunteers to groom trails in Cazenovia.
“We are so grateful to Peter for his generosity and his passion for enhancing the winter outdoor recreation opportunities in our area,” said CPF Executive Director Jen Wong. “FROSTY has helped CPF and several other Cazenovia-area partners build and promote the groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trail network in our community, and we’ve had nothing but positive feedback from winter trail users. This endeavor needed a champion, and it wouldn’t have happened without Peter’s enthusiasm.”
FROSTY grooms a total of 30 miles of trails and offers an inventory of snowshoes for community use. Its newsletter announces trail conditions and local events throughout Madison County. Donations are invested in tools, equipment, and supplies that are utilized exclusively on local trail networks.
“I am honored to be recognized for the volunteer work performed at Stoney Pond,” Radosta said. “It’s a joy to see individuals and families hike, camp, fish, and just be outdoors, year-round, right here in Nelson. And it’s particularly rewarding to facilitate miles and miles of groomed snow on trails in Nelson and Cazenovia. This would only be possible with dedicated volunteers, permits issued by the DEC, and community leaders who believed in my vision to embrace outdoor recreation as an important asset in our rural area.”
Radosta was presented with his citizen of the year award during a ceremony at the Erieville Fire Hall.
Norman Odell Citizen of the Year Award
Established in 1996, the award is named in honor of longtime Nelson resident Norman Odell, who served as a town planning board member, as the Nelson historian, and as a volunteer fireman. His widow, Helen Odell, was named citizen of the year in 2008.
Each year, the award program solicits nominations from town residents throughout the month of August and early September.
The nominations are submitted to the town office or to a member of ENHS. Each submission is accompanied by a brief biography of the nominee, including information about their volunteer contributions to the area.
A committee, consisting of a non-voting chairman and three voting members — a Nelson town board member, an ENHS representative, and a Town of Nelson citizen — meets in late September to determine the most deserving nominee.
The recipient receives an award plaque and has their name added to a plaque hanging in the town hall.
Formed in 1984, ENHS is dedicated to discovering, collecting, and preserving historical records and other data relating to the Erieville and Nelson area and to making the information available to the public. To learn more, visit facebook.com/ErievilleNelsonHeritageSociety/.