Community members, mainly property owners along East Northshore Drive, were present at Monday’s Syracuse-Wawasee Trails Committee meeting.
There has been some concern among homeowners regarding recent trail construction near their properties. The concern stems from the fact that, in accordance with a contract with the county highway department and after walking the proposed trail last month, it was determined that a section of the trail should be separated from the road for safety reasons.
All construction remains in the right of way; however, the homeowners felt they were not adequately consulted. Eight property owners attended the meeting.
Megan McClellan, executive director, said construction on that portion of the trail has stopped until the matter is resolved. Yet one woman, Sharon Dilella, said that work is still being done and has not stopped.
McClellan reiterated that the trail has been separated in that section for safety reasons. Committee members noted that there is a hill and a curve near the section of the trail. Dilella said that is not true and showed proof including a map from the county highway department.
Dilella said there isn’t a safety problem near the entrance to her home.
“There is not a hill or a curve in front of our home,” she said. “There’s no danger there.”
One man said there has not been good communication between the committee and property owners.
“We were assured there would be no separation,” said the man, who did not give his name.
Attorney Jack Birch, who was also at the meeting, said the permit is on hold for now, according to the highway department. Birch is the attorney for one of the concerned property owners who was at the meeting.
“Be consistent on that road,” said Birch. “If it (the trail) is run consistently, it’s safer.”
The committee has tried to do its best to work with the community, said Mike Buhrt, a committee member. He said it is trying to follow the permit from the county.
“If the county said we can do it, we will,” he stressed.
In March a committee member went door-to-door to speak to several property owners along East Northshore Drive. However, a few property owners said they had not been contacted.
According to a county ordinance, the minimum width of a shared-use path shall be 5 feet. The edge of the shared-use path and the edge of the roadway shall be separated by a minimum of 5 feet of unpaved area when sufficient right-of-way is present. An attached shared roadway with bikeways is the least desirable design and should only be used as the last design consideration.
No decision was made and committee members will take the matter under advisement. Construction was to be completed by Oct. 15, but will cease until the matter is resolved by the committee and concerned property owners.
The next trails committee meeting is at 6 p.m. Oct. 17.