Friday, November 14, 2008
Even simple things become complicated. The New London Day had a story on Friday about residents along Groton Long Point Road opposing a three foot wide trail through the Mortimer Wright Preserve that would connect to Haley Farm State Park. The residents brought up a list of concerns ranging from traffic to contaminated wells. Call me naive, but I did not realize that these footpaths could be so destructive. The Day reports: "Resident Bobbi Jo Cini said Wednesday she has concerns about horses using the trail, fearing manure could affect her well and wetlands on the Wright property. She also said the town would need state Department of Transportation permits for a trail to cross a state road. Groton Long Point Road "is not safe" she said, as cars tend to speed and even get into accidents. "Who is going to be liable for that?" she asked. Resident Frank Jannarone , who mows the parking area for the trail, also opposed the proposal, saying the current trail system is adequate and used frequently. He also said mountain bikes could damage the area." Usually nature preserves are a win-win situation. They protect open space, and provide a natural environment for the public to enjoy. Adjacent landowners often benefit from them in the form of higher property values. Residents never have to worry about looking out their kitchen window at a cul-de-sac of McMansions and power lines. The trade off is that the land is open to the public. The residents in this story want to have it both ways. They like the privacy and the wooded environment that the preserve provides, but they do not want to encourage access. They prefer that the nature preserve remains a wooded extension of their own property. I cannot help but suspect that their environmental concerns are manufactured. Has there ever been a case of well water being contaminated by an occasional horseback rider? I am sure there are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. No one wants the trail to become a hangout for vandals or teenage parties (the recent vandalism at Mianus River State Park comes to mind). No one wants the land to become a littered mess that does more harm than good. I would respect those concerns. What I do not respect is someone creating a bunch of false alarms in the name of environmentalism.