To bike or not to bike, that is the question

Residents and town board debate biking on Conger’s Lake Walkway

BY MARIA BROWNSELL

PHOTO CREDIT: Daniel Chazin
PHOTO CREDIT: Daniel Chazin

Congers Lake walking path was recently completed, giving many people in the community a new peaceful place to get their exercise. And for many others, more reasons to complain. The key cause of new complaints: bicycles.

A walking path is supposed to be for what it is named, walking, complainants point out. As the costs for parking at nearby Rockland Lake are constantly increasing, people on bicycles, scooters, rollerblades and other wheeled devices have been looking for a new, free place to carry out these motions and they’ve found it at Congers Lake.

The path is roughly 12 feet wide, explained Jo Anne Pedersen, Clarkstown superintendent of Recreation and Parks. The guideline for a path to allow bicycles are at least between 12 and 18 feet wide. She said many citizens have brought concerns to her about the safety of the walkers, which is why she brought up the use of bicycles and strollers to the Town Board.

Parents often want a place to take their kids who are learning to ride bikes that is smaller and easier for them than some of the bigger locations. A possibility mentioned was drawing a line down the middle of the trail and putting symbols for bikers and walkers on the ground, although it was admitted that there would be no means of enforcement.

Councilman George Hoehmann suggested getting rid of bikes altogether on the trail, while Councilwoman Shirley Lasker found that to be ridiculous.

“I walk that trail every morning and I’ve never had problems with bikes getting in the way,” said Lasker.

“You will get a lot of people upset that they can’t take their kids with bikes or strollers on the walkway,” said Supervisor Alexander Gromack.

Marge Hook of New City spoke up very adamantly against allowing bikes or skates on the trail, although found no reason to ban strollers or tricycles.

“It is a walk-a-bout!” she said. “All you need is one accident and someone [will] sue the town!”

Most of the town board members don’t see allowing bikes as a problem as they don’t think any aggressive bike riders would be there.

Pedersen said there has also been questioning about the uses of Congers Trailway for walk-a-thons and outside events. The potential obstacles to that include very limited parking and the deterring of regular patrons of the grounds during events. So far the commission has voted not to allow such events, but wanted to bring it up to the Town Board to see how they feel.

“Maybe we shouldn’t completely write it off,” said Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner. She mentioned how the town may want to allow different groups within Clarkstown to use the public grounds, but Town Attorney Amy Mele said restrictions allowing only town groups would not be legal. The time and place could be limited, but not the residency. Mele suggested seeing what other towns do and go for there.

After the debate on the walkway other less passionate topics were moved on to. The town decided to create Adopt-A-Spots at town pools to “make them pretty.” There was a power point presentation by Joe Simoes about regulating solar energy systems, during which Hoehmann reminded the room that Clarkstown’s solar field installation will be the first in all of New York State, and will be a public-private partnership. Homeowners are being encouraged to obtain solar power, with about 70 installations occurring over the past four years. Simoes explained all the different types of panel locations, the potential issues, proposed regulations and other questions.

Brooker Engineering ended the workshop meeting with a status report on the Hackensack River Basin Drainage Study. They are about one third of the way through the project.