On Thursday, February 17, at Park Road School in Pittsford, the Monroe County Parks Department hosted the first public input session concerning the upcoming Master Plan for Powder Mills Park. Around 150-200 people attended, including about 15 GROC members, as well as the expected group of folks who have opposed mtn biking in Monroe County Parks throughout the process for the Master Plan for the Ellison Area Parks. Tom Robinson, consulting engineer from EDR, gave an excellent and detailed slide presentation about the park and its assets and sensitive areas.
Although a few other topics were raised such as a proposed dog park, speed control on the roads and the need to control erosion caused by the meandering Irondequoit Creek, most discussion was about mtn biking, with the usual arguments about erosion and safety. The opponents really didn’t bring anything new other than a specific anecdote of a near collision and verbal rudeness on the part of a single biker, for which they argue against anyone having trail access for riding. Mike Reid, Director of Camp Arrowhead, which is bordered on three sides by Powder Mills Park, countered that their very active mtn biking program—which GROC is proud to have helped them develop--has had no adverse events even in their densely populated camp during the summer sessions.
Of course, we spoke in favor of considering the inclusion of mtn biking on shared-use trails as part of the Master Plan development for this park. We thanked Dave Rinaldo, Assistant Director of the Parks Department, who was the moderator for the meeting, for the job he and all the M.C. Parks folks are doing and the great progress we have made with them in the preparation of Tryon and BPW for the upcoming 18-month Trial Period. We did not get into arguments with the opposing speakers, and they were reasonably respectful when we spoke. At these meetings GROC takes the approach of arguing our position with reason, data and experience. We learned early on that we cannot change the minds of those who want to exclude us from the parks and who argue with anecdotes and fear. We only have to convince the decision makers, who are in the position of authority.
So begins the process. It will be long and arduous. If we hope to gain our fair access to trail riding in this park, we must attend every meeting. Also, we need to get our members and friends to speak at the meetings and to write support letters.
We must stay focused.
Mark Rosenzweig, Advocacy Committee Co-chair
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