Trail Users and Public Input

Trail Users
Current trail users represent a wide variety of interests. They include neighbors, runners, bicyclists, birders, butterfly watchers, and other groups and organizations listed below.  We do not know of any single trail in the Rochester area that is used by as many different groups. Many groups sponsor field trips to this diverse section of the Auburn trail.   Visitors to RRMSEA sometimes travel great distances because of the area's known biodiversity, and excellent birding. In September 2008, the trail was one of a very few local sites chosen for field trips for the New York State Ornithological Association. The New York Flora Association is planning a visit in the summer of 2009, because of the outstanding diversity of plants.
  • Coalition to Save RRMSEA - representing 5100 members 
    • Sierra Club - 2800 members
    • Rochester Birding Association - 360 members
    • Genesee Valley Audubon - 1600 members
    • Burroughs Audubon Nature Club - 250 members
    • Rochester Butterfly Club - 90 members
  •  Other Organizations that use the trail for outings 
    • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute w/RIT
    • Rochester Retired Teachers Organization
    • Wednesday Hikers
    • MCC Biology Department - faculty workshops and class field trips
    • Oven Door Runners
    • Crescent Trail Association
    • Victor Hiking Trails  (also maintains the trail) 

The great majority of actual users prefer a narrow trail.  Victor has not acknowledged the substantial number of individuals and groups that use the trail,  who would like to see minimal or no change. These concerns need to be addressed to develop the "community-valued trail" that is a stated objective for the project.  The current proposal for a 10' wide, stone dust highway would eliminate the entire trail surface, impacting the envrionment.  It would also discourage, and even eliminate many of the users who now visit to enjoy the biodiversity and natural wilderness setting.

Public Input
Victor included many of the public comments it received in an appendix of its recently published Draft Design Report.  These comments include feedback from a variety of people, not only actual users.  Not included in the appendix were 26 pages of petition signatures from neighbors and others supporting compromise of a 3' width.  Several additional letters and emails that asked the Town to protect the sensitive the environment by not overwidening the trail were omitted as well.  The report does not discuss the public input, accurately describe the trail users, nor does it mention the substantial controversy that has developed.  The Coalition has tallied the comments.
  •   Online Feedback and Comment Sheets included in Draft Design Report - 187 Total
    • 40% Support 3 feet or leave it as is.
    • 28% Support 6 feet or more.
    • 32% Voiced an opinion on unrelated issues or their position on the trail width was unknown.
  • Written Letters - 14, including known omitted letters
    • 11 letters spoke eloquently for minimal impact to this area
    • 3 letters spoke in support of Victor's Proposed plan
  • Petition - 615 petition signatures were submitted in support of the 3 foot width.
    • Coalition - 562 Signatures
      • 15 from Neighboring Landowners
    • Oven Door Runners - 53 Signatures
  • RRMSEA Website Comments
    • Over 80 Letters of support

Final Analysis of Representation 
and Public Input
Through the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), we were able to gather all of the comments submitted for the project, from January 2008 through the end of the public input session on January 15, 2009. Representation and comments submitted CLEARLY support a narrower trail in RRMSEA. 
[Table excerpted from Coalition Vision.]

A Question of Ethics

At a Victor Town Board Workshop on the project, November 24, 2008, Project Coordinator Brian Emelson (also the Parks and Recreation director) handed board councilman Peter Hessney a packet of public comments. Mr. Hessney asked if these were the same from the Draft Design Report. (The very large document detailing the project, including public input.) Mr. Emelson responded that they were. 

We received a copy of this packet and discovered that in fact, they were only 53 select comments supporting the project as is and did NOT include any comments opposed to the project. 

§ 74. Code of ethics. 1. Definition. 
3f.) An officer should not by his conduct give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties, or that he is affected by the kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person. 

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