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Security, Privacy and Cost Among Concerns with Rails to Trails Project

Newly proposed Rails to Trails Project receives mixed reactions at first community hearing.

A concept that was first discussed years ago for the 10-mile trail over the long-abandoned LIRR Wading River extension line from Mt. Sinai to Wading River, Rails to Trails now has some new life as the Suffolk County Department of Public Works has teamed up with a consulting firm, the RBA Group, and is in the conceptual stages of a proposed project.

Suffolk County Legis. Sarah Anker helped set up the meeting at the for community members to share their thoughts after a brief presentation by Jackson Wandres, landscape architect for the project, and William Hillman, Chief Engineer of the SCDPW.

The project, according to Hillman, could cost anywhere from $8-10 million with 80 percent of the funding coming from the federal government and the rest by local government, which concerned Legis. Anker.

"At this point, we can't afford it," she said. "Am I decided either way? No. However, the price tag on this huge project is concerning."

This first meeting was designed mostly for residents that sit along the trail, whose opinions would hold more weight in the matter, according to Hillman. Many of these residents expressed concerns over security and privacy, as well as the cost for the taxpayers. Andrew Gladysz, who lives along the trail in Rocky Point, believes a new trail would invite more trouble into his backyard.

"We're not really for it," Gladysz said. "I work three jobs, I'm not home. So if I yell at someone during the day to get off my property, I'm concerned they could come back when I'm not at home and do something to my wife, my kids, my family."

Hillman said that there are no plans for security along the trail, and much of that would be up to the community.

Jeff Carlson, a nine-year Rocky Point resident and parent of two who does not live directly on the trail, is a member of Concerned Long Island Mountain Bikers (C.L.I.M.B) a group which he says has already dedicated themselves to taking care of the trails. When another CLIMB member said they would be happy to be there helping out, one resident who lives along the trail yelled out, "we don't want you in our backyards."

While tension was high for most of the meeting, Charlie McAteer, a member of the Friends of the Greenway group that supports the existing trail from Setauket to Port Jefferson Station, tried to explain that the community can help make this work.

"I've been involved with that trail since 2000 and we went through everything that has been said tonight," McAteer said. "We've worked with the town to get garbage cans. The problems you mention on the trail don't end up happening because people have cameras on their phone and report [wrongdoings] and we're finding we're not having ATV's because... they do not like to have a paved path."

Other supporters also mentioned the increased safety and property values along the trail, as well as other community projects and opportunities that could come about. Nonetheless, many who came to the meeting against the project didn't seem to be swayed afterwards.

"I go out there about three times a year and I repaint all the graffiti on the poles because I don't want the kids reading the curse words because you can see it out my window...how often will I have to do that now?" Gladysz said. "There are enough trails in the area without building a new one, which we're eventually going to have to pay for."

Hillman reminded everyone that the project is still conceptual, and this was just the first of what would be many more meetings should the process move on to the next step.

"Nothing's been designed, nothing's happened," Hillman said. "We're here to listen to you about this project. If there's support for the project moving forward, we'll begin the process, and that process will contain multiple more meetings. This was, as I said, the first attempt to reach out to the community on the project in a very brief overview."

Would you support a Rails to Trails project from Mt. Sinai to Wading River? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Chris Mueller July 21, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Here is a Newsday article from last July stating that Long Island has the highest fatality rate involving bicycles in the metro area. http://www.newsday.com/long-island/li-bike-fatality-rate-highest-in-metro-area-1.3023831 Inside that article is a map depicting the location of all the bicycle fatalities on Long Island from 2005-2011. If you zoom in to the area of the proposed trail then you will see there are 6 bicycle related fatalities in close proximity. That's 6 too many. This map only accounts for fatalities involving bicycles. It doesn't account for accidents involving pedestrians and it doesn't account for accidents where cyclists were not killed. Here is a little blurb about a 9 year old girl killed while on her bicycle in Rocky Point. http://www.newsday.com/long-island/dangers-of-bicycling-on-li-1.3024336#8 I'm not saying that all of these deaths could have been prevented if this trail was built, but at least some of them could have been.
MaryAnne Gladysz July 21, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Chris, I too have made a right at times, rather than waiting to make a left across 25A. I do remember driving on the 2 lane 25A, as well. I have almost been 'clipped' on several occassions by people who don't pay attention. Trails will never change that. I'm not saying your ideas are completely without merit, just that I do not want it to run behind my house (and I think it's with good reason that I feel this way). We can post, post and post some more, but will never see eye to eye, so I will call it quits for now. But in no way am I saying that I will be 'for this trail'. Anyone who has lost someone has 'what ifs'. It's a horrible thing to go through, but it doesn't change my opinion. With all of the existing trails and parks, I cannot support spending more taxpayer money to put in another one. Sorry we don't agree, but sometimes all you can do is agree to disagree.
Chris Mueller July 22, 2012 at 03:15 AM
I appreciate your concerns and agree sometimes you have to agree to disagree. I'm not saying the trail is going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I also find it hard to believe the trail will have as negative an impact as people are thinking.
Andy Sarabia June 21, 2013 at 08:26 PM
I would respectfully suggest that any who live along the path go and walk along the Setauket Greenway Trail. Park in very nice lot on Gnarled Hollow rd and take a walk. Then go and knock on some doors of those live along that trial and ask them what they NOW think of it compared to what they thought before it was finished. They are mostly very friendly am I am sure would love to take a little time and talk with you about your concerns.
Robin Senholzi August 20, 2013 at 04:32 PM
I can understand all your concerns because when you bought your land you thought no one would ever be able to build on the LIPA property thus allowing you an additional buffer or even allow you to encroach on LIPA land allowing your backyard to be bigger. We would all "like" additional land" that we haven't paid for. However, we have paid tremendous fees to LIPA and why shouldn't we get the use of their land as you do. This land will allow people to walk thus making them healthier; children to ride bikes making the roads safer; children to skateboard again making roads safer and allowing all in the community a place where it is safe to walk. I'm sorry that you are upset but many of us have homes backing up to someone else's property. You are no different. If you don't like it, put in a fence like the rest of us had to.

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