TROY — At the city council meeting Monday, a Troy couple expressed their frustration and concerns with the expansion of natural trails located with the wooded property behind their home, which is part of the Riverside Cemetery.
Jim Thompson, and his wife, Julie, expressed their frustration and had multiple questions about the use of wooded natural trails behind their home off of Riverside Drive on Nottinghill Lane.
Thompson said he was astounded at the number of trails that had been opened since last fall.
Thompson, a city employee who works in the parks department, referenced the woods being cleared by neighbor Jeff Schultz, a member of the Mayor’s Cycling Advocacy Committee and mountain biking enthusiast. Schultz was contacted by the Troy Daily News, but declined to comment.
Approximately two years ago, the Troy Foundation provided the city $10,000 to pay for a feasibility study for a mountain bike trail in the area. The study was completed by the International Mountain Biking Association in November 2014. A copy of the study can be found online at www.tdn-net.com
According to Thompson, his neighbor Schultz was given approval to clear the trails on their own time and expense in order to mountain bike on the trails in the woods.
“When we bought this property, for one, it was with the notion this was nothing more than cemetery land … we wanted our privacy, which is why we opposed it (two years ago),” Thompson said.
Thompson asked the city’s public and service safety director, Patrick Titterington, why he was blindsided by the implementation of the trail without his knowledge. “How can you go behind closed doors with three or four of you and we don’t have a chance to fight this?” Thompson said.
Titterington said at the time the issue was brought up (two years ago), a feasibility study was underway.
Titterington said he recalled two issues from the events of the initial study of the trail access to Nottinghill. Titterington said the second issue where council would have been involved was initial cost of developing the paths and trails.
“That is where council could have had discussions, debate and input into whether or not the project would move forward,” Titterington said.
Titterington said the feasibility study showed the trail expansion would not be on the list of city priorities or need a request for funding.
“It has not been officially blessed because there is still a question of where those who want to participate and those who want to access the trails would come in and come out,” he said. “We made it quite clear we don’t want that access point to be where it was originally thought it might go (Nottinghill).”
Titterington said the Mayor’s Cycling Advocacy Committee was granted permission and has been clearing paths far back on the property behind the cemetery and it has been done at their own cost with no cost to the city. According to the city’s law director, Grant Kerber, no one can clear city property without consent of the public service and safety director.
Titterington said the committee is looking at alternatives away from Riverside and away from Nottinghill. Titterington said the proposed map of trails is designed to be far away from the homes and that is as far as the project has gone.
“I don’t believe there has been any resolution to access points, so we expect a report back from the committee upon how they or if they resolve that before we can allow something like that to go on,” Titterington said.
Troy City Council member and MCAC Chairman John Terwilliger said the committee will meet again in June to discuss the project and the future trails.
Terwilliger said the committee is working to design the trails to respect the adjacent property owners as well as the cemetery’s solitude. Terwilliger said he has walked the trails, many of which have been on the property and used by the community for decades. Terwilliger said the committee is gathering more information. Mayor Michael Beamish said he is 100 percent in favor of expansion of the trail paths.
“Overall, I am 100 percent in favor of expanding the mountain trail paths and opportunities and I believe the Cemetery land is an ideal location, provided that access is away from the subdivision,” Beamish said. “We have confirmed in our meeting that the trail is not being located near the backyards of the residences. While we are sensitive to the concerns of the resident, the land in question is city property and this is a great use of that property to benefit many of our residents.”
According to Captain Joe Long of the Troy Police Department, since the property use is listed as a cemetery, the zoning (Residential-4) and its ordinances would be in effect, such as opening and closing times and noise restrictions.
Reach Melanie Yingst at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews