Messenger Post Article

June 25, 2008

I am a member of the Advisory Committee for the Auburn Trail Extension, representing the Coalition to Save the Railroad Mills Special Environmental Area (RRMSEA).   The June 12 editorial in the Penfield Post doesn’t accurately characterize the position of users opposed to the proposed trail development.  Our proposal (http://www.rochesterbirding.com/auburnposition.pdf) is meant to be inclusive, not exclusive, while highlighting the area as a jewel in Victor’s system.

We believe the trail can be improved, accessible, and the environment protected. We disagree with Victor’s claims of no significant environmental damage resulting from its plans, which call for unnecessary overwidening of the trail.

Please don’t cast the large and diverse people opposed to the project as a “special interest group”.  Besides neighbors and many others who have expressed their preference for a narrower trail,  the Coalition includes some of the leading environmental groups in the Rochester region: Sierra Club, Rochester Birding Association, Burroughs Audubon Nature Club, Rochester Butterfly Club,  and Genesee Valley Audubon, comprising over 5000 members.

We have proposed a compromise that protects the environment, and meets the goals of the project for safety, connectivity, and accessibility.  The trail is currently a 1’ wide foot path – we are recommending a safe, 3’ wide ADA-compliant trail with sufficient wider areas for wheelchair turnarounds that would serve as interpretive places.  We propose signage at both ends to welcome people to RRMSEA – users should know they are entering a special place.

Every “multi-use trail” doesn’t need to look like a roadway. Let the environment guide the design. We’re not advocating abandoning the project, rather thinking differently about it.  This natural area is unique: it encourages users to go slowly and savor what is there.  We’ve documented an extraordinary diversity of birds, plants, frogs, and butterflies in RRMSEA.

Our environment keeps getting chipped away – small piece here, another there.  Each loss seemingly not a big deal.  On this short section of the Auburn trail extension we have a chance to protect and highlight a unique area where nature is close-up and personal. It is a gift for our children and community.  Why destroy it with a 10’ wide swath for some bicyclists to zoom through, while the current and future users and nature lovers (including bicyclists, joggers, people with disabling conditions, people with strollers, walkers, etc.) will have lost another natural treasure.  We say we are going green – let’s demonstrate it here.

 

Steven Daniel

Pittsford