A couple weeks ago it was announced that an agreement has been reached for WNY's longest Rail Trail. The Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail signed at 49-year lease with an option of 50 more years, giving the ECRT the opportunity to build a 27-mile multi-use trail that will run from Ashford in Cattaraugus County to Orchard Park in Erie County.

After the article was published we received an email from Rich F., a member of the West Falls Conservation Society, with an argument against the Rail Trail. We offered to publish his argument against the rail trail that would essentially shut down their conservation club. Here is the other side of the story.

"Your article on the Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail announcement of their lease for the old abandoned rail line that splits our club property, if allowed to go thru our property will for all intents and purposes be the end of West Falls Conservation as we know and love it.

 

This rail line cuts thru our property as well as hundreds of private home owners property, literally not more than a couple dozen feet from many of them. While Rail Trail may fit in some areas this is not one of them. Think of having a public trail 50 feet from your back door. Sounds great right? Except when some stranger is standing there eying your daughter while she’s swimming in your pool with her friends. Where and who will be responsible for the garbage pick up along the trail. Not to mention the restrooms, 27 miles of trail you’re going to need one at some point. Picture sitting on your deck while someone uses the shrubbery in your yard to relieve themselves.

 

I know this could be considered the extreme cases. But put yourself in the home owners POV if it happens just once. I’ve been to several Rails to Trails public meetings, the most remembered one was a few years back in Orchard Park with the former town Superintendent Sheila Brown/Murphy. Who by the way had already at the time of the meeting, had given her go ahead to the Orchard Park portion before the meeting even started and was rushing through that part of the meeting until she met resistance from the people gathered to have their say about it. By my count 57 people spoke out against the trail and 5 for it. Of those 5 not 1 lived closer than several miles away from it. Not 1 person that lived with the purposed trail in their backyard said I think it would be great to walk out into my back yard and be feet away from a public trail.

Every single person in that minority for the trail, lived miles away, most in much more urban areas of Western New York, where such trails make sense. Trails and bike paths give people in those areas green spaces. People who live along this abandoned rail line do so not for human companionship but for solitude.

 

That rail line runs directly above our trap fields, and outdoor archery range. It is directly below our rifle range, and thru our fishing pond area as well as the club property used by dozens and dozens of club members each year for hunting purposes.

 

The Wednesday night trap leagues would cease to exist, not to mention the High School trap league that uses our facilities to learn and compete in the sport.

 

The outdoor archery range where many a youth in our JOAD(Junior Olympic Archery Development) program would cease to exist.  Along with adult archery on Mondays not being able to use the facilities, the same facilities Jake Kaminski a Western New York Olympic Silver medalist used to train on in his time shooting with Leo’s Archery at West Falls. The same club who also started Samantha Reese a member of the Junior Olympic Dream Team on her way(now at Texas A&M on an archery scholarship). The same fields my children trained on to go to several state tournaments and the New York State Empire State Games taking titles and placing for medals would be nothing but memories if the trail was allowed to happen."

For more information about the West Falls Conservation Society click HERE.

For more information on the ECRT click HERE.