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Medford Residents Stopped From 'Taking Back Path'

Volunteers unable to clear trees on town-owned path that is said to be a hangout for children.

A local effort to clear excess trees on a path between Greenport Avenue and Vine Street in Medford was cut short Saturday as the Town of Brookhaven would not allow volunteers to remove any trees.

The effort titled “” was organized by residents who planned to volunteer their time to cut down several trees blocking the path's visibility and pick up garbage. However, the paper road--a mapped road that isn't paved--is town-owned and thus under its control.

"The town said we can help you dispose of all the garbage that you have, but you can't cut down trees," said Jack Krieger, a town spokesman. "We didn't call it off or anything, we just asked them not to cut down trees."

Resident Rich Piquette was one of the volunteers who attended the clean up event.

"We were told by the Town [of Brookhaven] that it is town property and that we can't touch it,” Piquette said. “So I think that we are going to go with a petition for them to clean it up; have the town spend the money instead of using the volunteers that were going to do it for free."

Piquette said the phone call blocking the clean up was received last Friday. Neighbors say the path has become well-trafficked by students, which raises privacy concerns for nearby homeowners.

"This is a big hangout for kids over here,” resident Chris Hess said. “We're trying to clean it up to eliminate them from going on to everyone else's property.”

Piquette has also noticed the increased usage of the path as a hiding place.

"If you just walk down the trail, you can see there's things from cocaine down there, pill packages, beer cans,” Piquette said. “We just want to trim up the bushes and stuff so that the police can see from either end to stop them from hanging out in the path.”

Children and their families did still clean up several bags of trash along the path on Saturday. Plans to continue with the larger clean-up efforts, such as trimming or removal of trees and vegetation, have been postponed until further discussion between the Town of Brookhaven and local residents has taken place.

Nerina Sperl, treasurer of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association, said that the path does have a positive use for some students.

"Kids have been coming in here and doing things that they shouldn't be doing. However, it is also a path for them to get to school,” Sperl said. “I think that we should have a meeting to discuss what would be the best treatment for this. Something needs to be done to make it safer."

Neighbor Patricia Urizzo had several ideas for what she would like done to the path.

"One, I love the nature of it. I am a birdwatcher so I am very opposed to just cutting down trees,” Urizzo said. “But I am not opposed to making a road out of [the path] or putting a house up here for someone to live affordably. I'm not opposed to any of those things. What I am opposed to is a wider path to invite more people to come and go."

Ultimately, Piquette said he was disappointed that the town would not allow the residents to help work on the path.

"The town had 30 volunteers to go do that for nothing," he said "and we couldn't just understand why they put a stop to it."

gooseman3 October 19, 2011 at 11:19 PM
its amazing what a mess that path is and the street leading up to the high school is.......i live right there and have reached out several times to Michael Locantore to try and make sure the kids are in school where they should be instead of hanging out down the block throwing garbage everywhere.......seems that during school hours the kids arent the responsibility of the school anymore and i guess us neighbors just have to deal with it....I'm thinking of calling News 12 to shed some more light on the problem.
jared October 20, 2011 at 12:23 AM
why didn't they just ever put the road in? that'd clean up the problem with kids hanging out there
Patchogue October 20, 2011 at 01:39 AM
This is truly ridiculous. The town wont maintain town property and when people volunteer to clean it up, the town stops them. Just clean it up and post signs when the town is not there, like "community watch area" and walk through and intrude. What is the town doing about kids smoking pot and doing drugs on the property?
gooseman3 October 20, 2011 at 02:07 AM
my suggestion was to have the kids who were serving detention at the high school be allowed to come down the block and clean the area........doing something productive other than staring out the window watching the sprinklers go back and forth....but i guess in these times, administrators are fearful of what they can and can't do.....
Chris D October 21, 2011 at 07:13 PM
I have three kids in the high school and they tell me that it is dangerous to go through that path. They would rather walk around then go through there. I've heard bad things about it. The kids call it Greenport Trails.
Lisa October 21, 2011 at 09:38 PM
The path is a disgrace along with the rest of the block leading to the high school. The Town of Brookhaven has been neglecting that block for years. They come to mow the area on Buffalo Avenue and trim trees but can't seem to turn the corner and go down Vine/Ferrick Avenue. I guess paying $10,000 a year in taxes only gets us a small piece of a block cleaned up. They can't even plow in the winter, they just plow the road in so that taxpayers can't get out and go to work! That path has been used by children in the neighborhood to go to and from school for many years. Yes, there has been older children (usually) hanging out on the path smoking and drinking but that is not the majority. That path can be utilized in a positive way for the children in the neighborhood to use. What is the problem with taxpayers willing to give their free time to volunteer to clean up? NOTHING! What is wrong with the town? Why can't it be made a community event? We have many children looking for community service work, boyscouts looking to for Eagle Scout projects and girl scouts looking to volunteer. Why not involve the children in working on this project? The high school needs to keep their building more secure in the morning and during the day so that students stay in the building or on the grounds as it is a closed campus. There is no reason that there should be garbage thrown all over Vine and on people's property if security were there. Something needs to be done!

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