Landowner Letter, December 14, 2016

14 December 2016

To: Caroline Town Board

From: Scott Van Gaasbeck, Crystal Van Gaasbeck
Dear Caroline Town Board,

It has come to our attention that members of the Caroline Town Board may be unfamiliar with the proposed Extension of the South Hill Recreation Way.

We have compiled the following packet of information so you can become familiar with the project and how it will affect our daily life, and the lives of many of our concerned neighbors. We encourage you to look through these documents, and email us if you have any questions.

The proposed trail is a threat to our livelihood, as well as the natural environment we live in. Scott has owned our property since 2001, and we have built a life and business based solely on our land and home.

We are used to living a private, rural lifestyle, and having a public trail through our property feels threatening to us.

Between the current terminus of the South Hill Recreation Way at Burns Road and the proposed extension to Middaugh Road, there are 4 active farms with livestock, honey bees, fruit trees, and equipment that could be tampered with, not to mention countless homes and other rural properties that abut the proposed trail. We, as well as many other landowners who oppose the trail, value our way of living, homes, and land. For many of us, our land and home are our most precious assets.

The old RR bed runs the entire length of our property, a length equivalent to about half the length of the entire subdivision in the Town of Ithaca which abuts the South Hill Recreation Way (near Northview Rd, Juniper Drive, Pennsylvania Ave, Coddington Road, etc.).

Aside from the homes in the aforementioned subdivision and a small handfull of other property owners, much of the current South Hill Recreation Way abuts land owned by the Town of Ithaca and the City of Ithaca, and is the Six Mile Creek Watershed & Town Water Supply (see enclosed map- outline of the City/Town Lands).

We are not opposed to trails, but we believe that they should be on public land, not private land.

According to the Dryden Rail Trail Friends and Task Force Minutes from September 21, 2016, Tompkins County is already home to 240 miles of trails which the public can use and enjoy fully (see list on next page). We do not need to add another contentious ~3 miles to extend the South Hill Recreation Way to Middaugh Road (our farm).

According to, Tompkins County is home to the following public trails/nature preserves which are open to the public:

Sapsucker Woods

Etna Nature Preserve

Park Nature Preserve

Cayuga Trail

Connecticut Hill WMA

Newfield State Forest

Yellow Barn State Forest

Taughannock Falls State Park

Ridgeway Trail
Six Mile Gorge Trail

Goetchius Wetland Preserve

Ithaca Gorge

Cayuga Waterfront Trail

Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve

Lindsay-Parsons Preserve

East Ithaca Recreation Way

Danby State Forest

Potato Hill State Forest

Robert Treman State Park

Finger Lakes Trail in CNY

Black Diamond Trail

Salmon Creek Bird Sanctuary

Ludlowville Falls

Cascadilla Gorge

Thurber Nature Preserve

Stevenson Forest Preserve

Arnot Forest

South Hill Recreation Way

Hammond Hill State Forest

Shindagin Hollow State Forest

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Sweedler Nature Preserve

Jim Schug Trail
Genung Nature Preserve

Ithaca Falls

Coddington Road and Middaugh Road run less than a half mile apart, and are separated by fields and woods. Extending the South Hill Recreation Way to Middaugh Road would essentially create another “road” right in the middle. We do not need to another “road” of any sort bisecting this beautiful natural area.

The benefit to the public of Extending the South Hill Recreation Way roughly another 3 miles to Middaugh Road (our farm), is very small in comparison to the continuous and undue stress, hardship (and legal fees) it has already inflicted upon us and other property owners. It is not just a “trail” for others to enjoy our properties free of charge, it is a direct threat to our livelihood and privacy.

Thank you for your time,

Scott & Crystal Van Gaasbeck


Enclosed you’ll find:

  • Letter to Town of Caroline Board from Scott Van Gaasbeck, June 8, 2016
  • Letter To Town of Caroline Board from Scott Van Gaasbeck & Laura Burrows, October 14, 2008
  • Letter To Town of Caroline Board from Scott Van Gaasbeck & Laura Burrows, October 7, 2008
  • Letter to Tompkins County Attorney (also sent to Dan Klein), from Scott Van Gaasbeck, July 22, 2016
  • Dan Klein’s Response to Letter to Tompkins County Attorney
  • Letter from James L. Seward, Senator, September 15, 2008
  • Minutes of the Town of Caroline Board Meeting, October 14, 2008
  • Handout, “Why the proposed “trail” is not such a good idea”
  • Letter to Town of Caroline Board from Scott Van Gaasbeck, August 10, 2016
    Documents the blatant untruths in the “South Hill Recreation Way Trail Feasibility Study”
  • Excerpts from the “South Hill Recreation Way Trail Feasibility Study” which present blatant untruths as fact
  • Letter to Linda Adams, Town Board Member Town of Caroline, from NYSEG, January 30, 2008
  • Landowner Protest Petition from Robin L. Tilton to the Caroline Town Board, June 5, 2008
  • Minutes of the Natural Areas and Trails Group Meetings with Neighbors, May 27, 2008
  • Public Facebook post providing recent evidence of tresspassing (November 27, 2016)
  • Health Department Notice about dog bite along South Hill Recreation Way
  • Ithaca Journal Article from 2008, “Coddington Trail would be up to a town other than Caroline”