In the New York Times: Should the Putnam Trail be paved?

Yesterday’s New York Times explored the debate over whether or not to pave the Putnam Trail.

Battle lines have been drawn, and arguments amassed, on both sides of a plan to pave and widen the path, known as the Putnam Trail in Van Cortlandt Park. On one side are bicyclists and advocates for the disabled who say that paving the path, which is rutted and muddy in spots, would improve accessibility. On the other side are runners and walkers who argue that the dirt trail — the remains of the old Putnam rail line — is easy on the joints and, more important, a rare place to escape the urban landscape….

What do you think?



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4 responses to “In the New York Times: Should the Putnam Trail be paved?”

  1. Jack Marth

    The plan to pave the trail is the best plan for our community. The fact that the plan includes an parallel dirt trail means all needs can be met. Paving this small portion of trail, which will connect to the similarly paved Westchester Cty South and North Trails, means bikers and others will have access to off road trails that can take them all the way from the Bronx to Putnam County. Our neighborhood can only be enhanced by having this major recreational attraction and alternative green friendly commuting option. The anti-paving advocates make it sound like there were be no more unpaved trails for running and hiking in VCP or that the beauty around the old Putnam line will be destroyed through paving. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. I also think this battle is largely over. Not sure why the NYTs is covering this so late in the game.

  2. Kristin

    I just wish the city would also create some meaningful access to the beautiful Aqueduct Trail.

  3. Suzanne

    Paving is not the best choice for the community and there has been never been any real discussion about choices because misinformation was supplied to the public for years in order to ensure a certain outcome. It has taken 3 years for the parks dept. to admit that asphalt was not federally-mandated. The federal funding actually was to improve the trail in a way that was ADA-compliant yet respectful of a public park. There are many ways to do this.. Examples are Crotched Mountain in Vermont, or Nisqually Park in Washington State. Our group has supported a less wide stone-dust path precisely because it gives accessibility, is ADA-compliant, preserves the ambiance, and ensures harmony among all enjoyers of the trail, many of whom don’t have someone to speak for them. The claim that asphalt is cheaper or easier to maintain is simply wrong. The average asphalt trail costs twice as much to build as stone-dust and $6500 per mile per year to maintain. And as John Liu said at a recent mayoral forum, once you lose a natural area, you never get it back. Asphalt is permanent. It is unnecessary. Most importantly, if you polled the community, you’d discover they are opposed to paving. They don’t want to look like Westchester County. They think the plans are too dramatic a departure from the trail as it exists today. Those who want to pave always mention the number of trails in Van Cortlandt Park. They neglect to mention there is 40 miles of paved path from Westchester County toward Manhattan. They also neglect to mention that the Putnam Trail is the only flat nature trail accessible to birders, the elderly, community cyclists, parents with strollers, dog-walkers, schoolchildren, hikers, and many others who don’t normally have a voice in the halls where these decisions get made. They — we — ask for a better design that provides accessibility but not at the cost of the park’s character and history. We can do this.

  4. JosephS

    The Putnam Trail in VCP is NOT what I would call “accessible” to elderly, parents with strollers, and school children. When I rode down the South County Trail to where it ended at the Park last summer, it was muddy and overgrown. Unless you want to risk a tick bite and getting lyme disease spending an hour picking your way through the overgrowth, it is not what I would call “accessible” to parents with strollers, school children, the elderly, or even a casual cyclist (not all cyclists are hard-core mountain bikers with equipped with MTBs that can do single-track dirt riding).

    Paving the trail a measly 1.8 miles down to 240th Street would allow residents of the Bronx (and the rest of NYC) easy access to the South County Trail. And the parts of the South County Trail that runs by the Saw Mill River exists in harmony with its natural surroundings– The Saw Mill River is clean and supports abundant wildlife. We are not talking about building a 40-feet-wide road with motor traffic and engine emissions, but something akin to just a sidewalk.

    A paved trail that respects the nature areas it passes through is possible and has been done. Look at how Dutchess County implemented the Dutchess Rail Trail and the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. Both are paved yet passes through unspoiled natural areas without spoiling their character and history.

    Pave the Putnam Trail!

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