Landowner Letter to R. Dietric, Town of Ithaca Supervisor

Dear R. Dietric,

My first question is “what’s in this for you”?   Besides the self-proclaimed, glory vain reason of “I started it and want to see it go through all the way to Newark Valley” – why is this so important to you?    

Before I go further, please take out a map and check on the location of the proposed trail.   From what I’ve seen – Ithaca to Owego was the original proposal.  Newark Valley is in quite a different direction. However, if Newark Valley does factor into this proposal then please confirm – that’s a whole new set of landowners we’d like to contact.    

 So aside from the issue of where exactly the trail is supposed to go (and the arrogance of having your name associated with this proposal), I’m guessing your other benefit might be the chance to occasionally ride your bike and/or walk through our valley to view the scenery and experience the rural setting, for which you do not pay taxes.  

Which by the way – is not for the “greater good”, it’s personal for you.

Just as it’s personal for the landowners – only more so.   For us, the proposed trail is not a benefit, it’s not fun, it’s not recreation.  It won’t be an occasional enjoyment – it’ll be a constant, daily irritant.  Quite simply –

it’s a blatant invasion of our privacy, our security, and an unjustified land grab to repurpose a right of way that has served no purpose for over 60 years.    The rail bed was abandoned, never maintained, and should have reverted back to the original land owners years ago.   My property abstract actually refers to it as the “former” right of way.  To avoid confusion, the definition of former means, past, ex, previous, no longer.     In fact, NYSEG gave the previous owner of my house, verbal approval to do whatever he wished with the rail bed.  And so it became a part of the lawn – maintained now by 3 owners for 54 years.   Quite simply – you do not have my approval to now put a trail through my lawn next to my house!

And please drop the railroad argument – it is invalid and has no relevance to this situation.   I guarantee that those of us who are the newest landowners would never have purchased our properties if in fact, the railroad were still active.  Furthermore, most of us (if not all) would never have purchased the land if the rail trail proposal had been made public at the time of purchase.  Who in their right mind would buy property that will clearly be devalued by the implementation of a trail that goes smack through the middle or alongside your entire property line eliminating ALL privacy.  To clarify your analogy, a train moves along and doesn’t stop.  But a trail that goes right next to your home and business or literally divides it down the middle, offers a wonderful opportunity for all kinds of mischief; criminal or otherwise.  For instance, breaking and entering, or driving 4 wheelers and snow mobiles all night long.   Far more intrusive – trust me.  I’ve had the experience of two break ins, and 4 wheelers actually driving on my property thinking they could get through to the old rail bed.  

But clearly it doesn’t affect you so I don’t expect you to understand the impact or the pain of this proposed trail for those of us who will live with it daily.

We purchased our land or have remained living in our locations, purposefully because it offered a specific setting and/or agri-business and/or proximity to hunting, fishing, photography, nature study, etc.  We landowners came to live where we are for different reasons, but I guarantee we all have a specific and personal purpose for living where we do – in a quiet rural setting away from the noise, lights, and population of villages and neighborhoods.   I don’t need or want additional strangers traveling into my isolated location.    I picked this location specifically to avoid people and traffic.  And I paid for it – therefore, you have no right to stomp all over my rights!

And you villagers and neighborhood/city dwellers, choose to live where you are for specific, personal reasons.  Which makes it even less appropriate for you to now want to destroy what we have, for your personal benefit! 

If you wanted to enjoy our valley so much – why didn’t you buy land out there?   My property was for sale for over a year – no one looked at it or bid on it except for me.  And I choose it specifically because of the rural setting, with the abundance of nature, the quiet, the lack of traffic (cars and people) and the beauty of my surroundings.  I worked long hard hours and saved my money for 25 years in order to find and buy my first house in the perfect location.  Which you now propose to destroy for personal gain and clearly little consideration,  empathy or understanding of the impact on me or any of the other landowners.

And, let me emphasize landowner.  Tax payer.  Care taker.  Your personal interest should not trump my right to continue to live in the specific location I worked so long and hard to purchase. Why is it o.k. for you take that away from me?  

 Again – your benefit at the expense of my detriment is not for the greater good.   I can’t help but ask – why are you more important than me?  Why is the desire of the non-land owners, more valuable than that of the tax-paying landowners who will be negatively impacted?

 You’ve heard the objections and “non has come true”.   Honestly, I don’t think you’ve listened very closely or carefully.  Certainly not with any consideration.

 Aside from all that’s been said – I’ll leave you with this, which I guarantee you won’t care about but it needs to be stated.  That in addition to the negative impact on the landowners, the proposed trail with its unavoidable carbon footprint and tax increases for maintenance, will also destroy the habitat for countless migrating and nesting ducks, raptors, birds, and mammals.  It will directly impact the nesting site of countless snapping turtles, painted turtles, and other amphibians, not to mention the deer, bobcat, fishers, coyotes, raccoons, mink, weasels, turkeys, otters, possums, fox, and bear – which all live, nest, and roam throughout the area.  

 Only the landowners should have the final say on whether or not this proposed trail is approved and developed – and unless you are one of us, you have no rights and no entitlement.  Please find a new hobby that truly benefits the greater good.  

 Sincerely,

B. Foster

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