Landowner letter, January 24, 2017

I just want to say that I think it’s important to recognize that many people have legitimate concerns about the proposed extension of the recreation way. For several property owners, the proposed trail would run right through their land—through their orchards, their farms, their yards. I ask you to consider how you would feel if a group of people wanted to establish a trail through your backyard. It’s not a matter of blowing out of proportion the possible dangers of “mother rapers” or a kind of blindness to the proposed benefits of such a trail to the public. But from what I’ve read on this list serve and others, proponents of the trail seem to have established an “us versus them” mentality: property owners who do not want a paved public trail running through their land must be somehow selfish or evil—or simply bad tempered. 

I’m a cross country skier, and a hiker, and a cyclist. Would it be nice to have a way to travel between Brooktondale and Ithaca that’s not on route 79 or Coddington Road? Sure—if that doesn’t interfere with anyone’s property rights or desire to have their surroundings remain private and rural. But in this case, the proposed trail does interfere with those rights and desires.

I moved to Brooktondale, purchased acreage and an old farmhouse precisely because I wanted to live in the country in the relative peace and quiet. Should this trail be built, it would empty out directly across from our home. Suddenly there would be trail heads, parking lots, and lots of people. Should the trail be extended further than Middaugh Road (which, I’m pretty certain is the larger plan), it would go right through our side yard, very near to our house. The last time this trail was proposed, someone tried to convince me that a wall could be built to shield us from the traffic! Right through our garden! (and then on through the field in which our solar panels are set up).

In a recent post, skiers’ respect for property owners was clear when a contributor to the list encountered a man over in the Yellow Barn area, I believe it was, who told the skier that he was trespassing, or about to. The skier had been unaware of this and proceeded to find another way to ski without trespassing. I think this kind of neighborly respect is important.

I hope that you all who support the trail can understand why I—and many others— don’t want this project to go forward. 

Thanks for listening.

I would just add that I find it somewhat amazing that people who don’t live along the proposed trail would ridicule the concerns of those who do, not to mention going ahead and trespassing in the mean time (E.g., on the Hilker property). What does private property mean if something property owners don’t want is forced upon us? Proponents of the trail—especially the more self-righteous of them—seem to think that the proposed route runs through—somehow—public land. It is not public land. It is owned by those of us who purchased it. I think this needs to be clarified immediately.

A final note: my spouse and I have not received any correspondence regarding the proposed trail from our town supervisor, who said in the last Brooktondale newsletter that he has been in touch with concerned property owners. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Mary Beth O’Connor

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