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."