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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.

Adam Scally July 13, 2012 at 04:24 PM
I am confused by some of concerns that some are leaving. How would a path create more crime? I mean most times these kids are there right now to hide and drink in the woods. Wouldn't this path deter these situations from occurring? Also giving these kids something more constructive to do with there time than get themselves into the trouble like what is being brought up?
Chris Mueller July 13, 2012 at 06:18 PM
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Create-The-Port-Jeff-To-Wading-River-BikeJogging-Path/194823867282241
margaret cibulka July 13, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I lived on a trail in Severna Park, Maryland. It was absolutely beautiful. The girl scouts planted wildflowers and daffodils. Young and old rode their bikes in safety, away from speeding cars. There was no crime! I had no trouble selling my home;, in fact I know it helped.
Michael Leverett Dorn, PhD July 13, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Thanks Chris!
Denis Byrne July 14, 2012 at 07:36 PM
I already ride the entire length of this corridor all the time and the only trouble I run into is the ATV's if it is late enough in the day and some heavily overgrown spots here and there. Plus lifting the bike over the barriers. While there is evidence of a few party spots here and there, these will diminish once the kids realize that hanging out will not be as clandestine as it was before the paved path. Graffiti should get taken care of quicker than now too as more people will notice. Overall this can be a huge benefit to the community and I would welcome a trail in my own backyard, or front yard, or side yard if it were possible. Less excuses to jump in a car and more excuses to get some exercise... I think that we need to build more of these places and that many people will realize, over time, how this really makes your home values increase and helps the local environment.
MaryAnne Gladysz July 17, 2012 at 01:36 AM
So, I checked out the facebook page regarding the trail. I posted a comment only to find it had mysteriously disappeard within a few hours. The jist of it was this... 'Your right to swing your fists ends where my nose begins'. If you want a trail in your yard, go for it... but I don't want one in mine! And believe me, I'm not alone in that thought.
Larry Mazza July 17, 2012 at 02:04 AM
I am a strong proponent of the trail because it will provide exercise for our community. A good diet and regular excercise are necessary to fight the onset of many diseases. Primary among these is diabetes. Diabetes is the seventh largest killer in the United States. 25.8 million people or 8.3% of the population are afflicted. It is estimated that 79 million people have pre-diabetes, meaning they have a high risk of becoming diabetic during their lifetime. In 2007, 71,382 death certificates listed diabetes as the underlying cause of death while another 160,022 death certificates listed it as a contributing factor. The cost of this deadly disease was estimated to be 174 billion dollars of which $116 billion was needed to cover health care costs. The trail is the answer to this public health tragedy. According to the American Diabetes Association, "Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone, but it's especially important for people with diabetes". They recommend that people with pre-diabetes  exercise 30 minutes on most days. A study by the Diabetes Prevention Program showed that 150 minutes of exercise per week helped to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. The trail will provide a safe place to exercise. This in turn will help reduce county health costs. Most people simply look at the cost of the trail and say we can't afford it. The fact is, we can't afford not to do it. Larry Mazza Member, Friends of the Greenway
MaryAnne Gladysz July 17, 2012 at 10:42 AM
There are many parks and trails already that can be used for excerise. Putting in another one is not going to make people suddenly decide to 'get up and go'. I think it's safe to say that if someone is advised to walk, etc. they are already doing it, or just don't want to. I agree that there are benefits to things like this, but why not use what is already in existence rather than cost taxpayers more and deprive homeowners of their privacy and possibly security?
Michael Leverett Dorn, PhD July 17, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Dear Ms. Gladysz: I don't know what happened with the facebook post but wanted to let you know that I respect your right to express your perspective on the trail and understand your security concerns as a homeowner who would be impacted (for good or for ill or a mixture of both) if the project were to go forward. Best, Mike Dorn
Chris Mueller July 17, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Speaking of security, what about the number of pedestrians and cyclists who get hit by motor vehicles? One local cyclist was struck and killed two years ago along 25A in Miller Place just a few feet from this proposed path. She might still be alive today if this path had been built. The person that hit her was on on drugs. People are driving on drugs, alcohol and are now texting too. The roads are becoming a more dangerous place and Long Island has one of the WORST statistics in motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. It's scary. This path isn't just about exercise. People who take the train could easily bike/jog along the path to get to the Port Jeff train station where specially built bicycle lockers are already in place. People could use the path to shop at the local stores along 25A. You could even bike down to Port Jeff Harbor. Could you imagine if they ever built the pedestrian mall in Mt Sinai they are talking about. You could bike or walk there and do some shopping. What if some kind of ice cream place or cool hamburger joint opened there. A simple bike ride or walk along a nice safe path would be huge for shops like that. Have you ever tried to make a left across 25A without a traffic light? Not fun. If you are at a shop on the north side of 25A then there's no need to make a risky left hand turn. Simply follow the new path home.
Chris Mueller July 17, 2012 at 04:19 PM
All of this leads to less cars on the road which been less pollution, less traffic, less automobile noise, safer roads and more. Look at the articles that just came out about using freight trains to bring goods to Long Island. I think it was in Newsday on 7/16. They state that one rail car on a freight train can hold 4 tractor trailers worth of goods. To summarize the article, "in the first nine months of operation 735 railcars of stone, 22 of flour and 12 of biodiesel came in........ Those railcars replaced an estimates 3,076 tractor trailers on the LIE." I know this path wouldn't come close to those numbers but it will result in less highway traffic which leads to safer roads and more. To give you an idea of what biking can do, I sometimes bike from my house in Port Jeff Station to my job in Miller Place. It's just a shade over 5 miles long with more then half the trip along 25A. If I take my car to work then it takes me about 20 minutes to do those 5+ miles. If I bike to work then it only takes me about 25 minutes. It only takes me about 5 for minutes to bike to work then to drive my car, and that's not even trying to pedal hard and trust me, I'm not in great shape. I'd much rather have a nice, maintained path in my neighborhood being used by families, shoppers, commuters and people exercising then have a stretch of unsightly overgrowth that people use as a garbage dump, drug site and more.
Ed Silsbe July 17, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I don't live near Trail, our Trail could cross it. I challenge anyone, research your concerns, facts X rumors. You can't find Trails that are security failures. Talk to P.Dept. about CPTED, get good citizens into these places & solve crime problems, a fact. Heard of NYC's HighLine? An elevated Trail (2nd fl level) in Mid Town. Tough areas now in renaissance. Credit a Trail. Masspequa Pres' Goggle it, 25 yr's of great stuff. Go next door 2 Setauket-P.J. Sta. Trail so similar many of the same concerns expressed & the truth is staggering. Go walk/ride it & see. Your avg cor' is 100'+ wide. Fences get installed & the some folks ask for it to be removed [ R -T's & American Trails.org, 7-10-2001 "Town Agrees to Remove Bike Trail Fence". 11,200' of fence now removed,etc.]. LIPA can clear it all 2 day, but w/ a Trail you get advocates & reasons to keep it green. "Big Sandy Trail" research, 4-'06; '06 Home $'s drop $4.20/ft as you go from Trail. Dn ~ 32% by 2/3 of mi. dist. W/ some reports homes Trail adj keep value & those a bit away go up. Studies show #1 thing Seniors look for in home/condo's walking trails. LI Press 11-12-'08 Brookhaven's 2030 Plan; bike & ped' networks top list. Fact Trails = higher home value. Leg. Anker expressed real concern about $'s. If you had a chance to give $1 & get back $10+ would you? You would! Well that's S.C.'s deal put up 1 Mil. & gets 10 mil.+, that Fed $ is going someplace. If you don't want it send it to us just south of you.
Chris Mueller July 17, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Here is some audio and pictures from a similar path in Setauket. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVQrEjpu5Fs Here's an article in the local paper about the same trail. Pay close attention to the end of the article. http://www.northshoreoflongisland.com/Articles-i-2009-06-04-80016.112114-sub_Your_trail_is_waiting.html
Chris Mueller July 17, 2012 at 06:40 PM
And here's a better video overview of the Setauket trail. I will point out there are a group of skateboarders in the video but it is my understanding that whatever surface they would use on the Port Jeff/Wading River trail will prevent skateboarders and roller bladers from using it. http://portjefferson.patch.com/articles/greenway-trail-expansion-expected-to-start-soon#video-6623768
MaryAnne Gladysz July 17, 2012 at 09:51 PM
From my fence to the neighbor behind me is 45ft. (This leaves a total of a 15 ft buffer after the 'easement') Nowhere near the 100 ft. they're stating 'in most spots'. I'm sure in some places it may even be less. They would pave the trail - this was stated at the July 11th meeting that so many people didn't receive notice of, so bring on the boards and blades. Post as many stats as you want... they're trying to put it in my backyard, not yours.
Ed Silsbe July 18, 2012 at 12:11 PM
MaryAnne: No disrespect, but did you look @ the info. offered? Have sim. Trails ever failed? Is Crime prevention theory wrong? Are the facts wrong? You say it’s 45’ btw’n you & the neighbor's & that there must be places where it’s less. You are wrong on both points. I don’t know where you live, the narrowest p/o the 11 mi. corridor is 50’. We have copies of the corridor’s County Tax Maps, avg. 112.7’ w. the 50’ w. part’s in Rocky Point @ B’way & Prince 500’ L. w/o homes. If you actually measured 45’ then you & or your neighbor have taken LIPA land, give it back & restore the trees you cut down. The area between King & Prince is mostly 70’-80’ wide. Please take the time to calm down & examine the facts. Your fears are not w/o merit. Your concerns are virtually the same w/ every such Trail project. The truth is far better. Reality is most people buying a home place a high value on living next to such a feature. Will your home sell for more w/ the problems I've heard about now or w/ a nice Trail? You know the answer. Pls ck out Newsday LI Sec’ 9-1-’10 “Group: Hempstead out of line” it looks @ factors affecting home $'s, the top positive example: replace an eyesore, unused rail spur, w/ a park or bike path. No study/survey has ever concluded w/: "Take out the Trail, it's caused harm." Look up Rail to Trails '97 report on 372 Trails. Truth, non say pull the Trail. ??'s Contact me @ unpreserved@yahoo.com for more info.
MaryAnne Gladysz July 18, 2012 at 06:49 PM
The crime/behavioral issues/concerns most of us have do not happen during daylight hours. These things occur at night time. With 'a chance of someone riding by', I firmly believe that there will be no decrease in what is already going on. These kids are arrogant. They're not going to be deterred by a slim possiblity. I should have been more clear on the area behind me... it's 45ft to my neighbors trees/bushes... you know, the one's they don't want to remove, but would! Remove them and you'll see everything through their chain link fence. I wish I had more trees in my yard, so keep your accusations to yourself! Perhaps, rather than looking at a map, you should walk the 12 miles, as is. See how many people's houses/yards you could look right into. Especially once you start removing the bushes and trees. This is my privacy, my children's privacy. Do I have to hear people 15 ft from my fence on and off all day and not be able to enjoy the serenity of my backyard during the day, to put in another trail when there are so many already? As far as selling my home for more money... I bought here to stay in the district where I grew up... I'm not looking to make a buck and sell. So, with all due repect, that 'fact' is worthless, to me.
Larry Mazza July 19, 2012 at 02:43 AM
There are many parks along the Bethpage bikeway, yet this trail is the most heavily used trail on the Island. I think it may be because it links many neighborhoods to the parks that brings people out. Check out this trail for yourself and you'll see what I mean. As for the expense, these federal funds have already been set aside. If not used here, they will be used elsewhere. As for the maintenance of the trail, volunteers will do most of the work. As you heard during the meeting, CLIMB our Long Island mountain biking club, has volunteered to maintain the trail.
Larry Mazza July 19, 2012 at 03:03 AM
With all due respect, you should consider the greater good of the community as a whole. I live next to the Rocky Point preserve in Middle Island. Hunting is allowed 6 months out of the year. I hear gun shots occasionally and there is always the possibility of a stray shot coming on my property. I'm not opposed to the hunting area because I realize that there are members of my community that enjoy hunting. I do not want to deprive them of their hobby. In addition, it helps to keep the deer population in check. Please consider the greater good of the community as a whole.
Ed Silsbe July 19, 2012 at 09:59 PM
MaryAnne: W/ all due respect, I gotta get to work this is getting silly. But to your comments: It's clear your scholarly research into the issues is commendable. Decades of Police science bows at your feet, your “firm beliefs” trump all (Trail in = crime dn all hours, more facts). You were unclear about your #’s (above, 7-17-'12) “fence to neighbor is 45’” so how could I have accused you of anything untoward, you'd never take an inch of LIPA land & the corridor is so narrow. I have walked/biked all 12 mi’s (10.4 actually, but who’s really ck’g facts anyhow). Have you walked it? & yes if I wanted to look into a yard or house I could get better views/access from the street (So close them too), Evil Trail designers seek backyard views, no?? Of course trespassers out there now are much better than a neighbor walking-jogging-biking past (You know those “lies” too, that most Trail users are “walk/bike to it” locals. Who let the P.J. guy in here?). & yes you’re right again those Trail folks who've never stripped out any other Trail corridor will do it here. WOW decades of nice work & stewardship to the real intent you see “Destruction of your backyard“. & right once more the only reason to see any increased “value” for a home near a trail is to “make a buck” & run (don’t run on the Trail, bad, bad). Obviously that “value” has nothing to do with anyone thinking it’s a good thing. Well just me talking facts again, silly, silly me.
MaryAnne Gladysz July 19, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Larry: Quick question: As far back as I can remember, the hunting has been going on in Middle Island. Did you move into your home before the hunting was allowed, or had it been going on before you moved in? The same question can be asked of people in the Mt. Sinai harbor area... the ones who have damaged my brother's truck because he's been goose hunting there for decades, they moved in and don't like it. The 'greater good' you say? What about my good, or my family's good? Ed: You called yourself 'silly'. I most certainly would have chosen another word. You are entitled to your opinion just as I am entitled to mine. There is no chance that this stubborn Irish/German woman will be changing her mind. Good luck in your quest... But be prepared for a fight from homeowners like myself.
Chris Mueller July 19, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Please, with all due respect, you mention you are concerned about your good and your family's good. I get that and understand that. I would think that if you were so concerned about your family's well being then you would great this trail with open arms. It would allow your family to walk, jog and ride their bikes in a much MUCH safer environment then what they currently have which is the road. How many Rocky Point residents feel safe walking or riding their bikes in the residential streets with all the ups and downs and twists and turns? It also opens up the opportunity to do a little shopping. There are many times when people need to make a left across 25A which is very dangerous, especially without a traffic light. Anyone who lives east of and shops at Cow Palace can understand where I'm coming from. Making a left out of there is horrible. Imagine how easy it could be for someone to ride their bike on their local roads to this trail and then head to Cow Palace. Tie up your bike outside, do your shopping, place your groceries in a basket on your bike and then head home along the trail. What about the bakery in Rocky Point? Another store that could increase their business with the trail. This would lead to more profitable local shops and less car congestion. Perhaps even some healthier individuals on the North Shore. Prospective homeowners would LOVE the idea of having a trail like this for their families.
MaryAnne Gladysz July 19, 2012 at 11:52 PM
The key word is 'prospective' (homeowner). I am an existing homeowner. As far as making a left along 25A, I agree it can be dangerous... but with a little patience, you can still make a left. I've lived in Sound Beach/Rocky Point for all but 3 years of my life and I've never had a problem, aside from having to wait for a minute or two.
Chris Mueller July 20, 2012 at 01:20 AM
I have no idea how old you are and I'm not asking, but if you've lived in the area for that long then you know just how drastically the area has changed. 25A used to be a single lane each way. Each subsequent year more and more houses are being built and more and more people are moving in. Making a left across 25A is doable, and it certainly was a lot easier just 10 years ago, but you readily admit it can be dangerous. Yes, I sometimes make a left but in all honesty, sometimes I just make a right and find a better way to head in the other direction. It's simply safer that way. So more cars are on the roads and drivers are growing more and more distracted by cell phones, drinking, drugs and more. The roads are more dangerous now more then ever. Just last week I was driving in a residential neighborhood that have all the streets running parallel and perpendicular. Every intersection is a 4 way stop. I was pulling to a stop sign and stopped and looked both ways. I saw a car coming about 150-200' from my left and they have a stop sign too. I stepped on the gas but kept my eye on the car coming and then I realized it wasn't stopping. It went full speed through the stop sign and as the car rolled through I saw the drivers head pop up . They were looking for something on the floor and went full speed through a stop sign. If I hadn't been paying attention then this car would have nailed me in the drivers door going about 30 MPH. I might not be here today.
Larry Mazza July 21, 2012 at 03:00 PM
MaryAnne You are correct to point out that the hunting was going on when I moved in. I didn't do enough research ahead of time, but I would have purchased this house anyway. I can give you another example that would apply. Many years after I moved in, a group home was proposed for my block, just a few houses away. Most of my neighbors were against it because they feared an increase in crime and lower property values. Sound familiar? I did some research and found that this does not happen. I refused to sign the petition calling for the group home to be put somewhere else. I thought about the greater good and what I would want if my loved one needed such a home. The house underwent major renovations and is one of the best kept homes on the block. The residents have not been a bother and there have been no crimes. I have heard no complaints about the home since it opened and I am glad I did not oppose it.
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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