Notes from Tompkins County Parks & Trails Network March 2022 meeting

Below are the notes from last month’s meeting of the Tompkins County Parks and Trails Network. This group meets periodically to share information regarding projects (in planning or underway) that may interest FLRC members and other local runners. There’s a ton of work underway and plenty of opportunities to get involved with other local groups.

On a personal note, this was the first of these meetings that I’ve been able to attend in person (outside at a park, of course), and it was utterly fascinating to hear everyone’s report. The notes below are quite terse, but the meeting was lively and convivial. As an indication of just how integrated FLRC is with area trails, I discovered that I had corresponded with—but never before met—seven or eight of the people present concerning the FLRC Challenge or other FLRC business.

Tompkins County Parks and Trails Network Recap of March 24, 2022 meeting

Charlie Trautmann / Flat Rock Bridge

  • 40 year old suspension bridge near Flat Rock needs repair. Renovation is planned next spring. $50,000 raised so far and still some funds needed. Will likely need volunteers to help with repairs. Working with Cornell Facilities.

Nick Helmholdt / Priority Trail Strategy Update

  • The county Department of Planning and Sustainability intends to update the Priority Trail Strategy. Nick asked for any members present who worked on the current plan for time to meet and discuss the background.

Myra Shulman / Cayuga Trails Club

  • TCAT to Trails – now shows bus stops! The map is linked to google transit maps. Next step is to link outdoor destinations on the TCAT webpage and define hiking trips people can take using TCAT.
  • GIAC partnership – CTC is working with GIAC and helping kids get outdoors. CTC did a trial last summer with camp groups. CTC is looking for an outdoor adventure program coordinator to help this summer. The position will last 6 weeks.

Adam Engst / Finger Lakes Runners Club

  • The Finger Lakes Runners Club is again putting on the FLRC Challenge, which encourages area runners to complete 10 courses, many of which include Tompkins County trails.

Andy Zepp / Finger Lakes Land Trust

  • Improved access point, parking and signage at finger lakes trail near NY 13/34/96 and can now park 15 vehicles.
  • Summerland farm, near Potato Hill State Forest, building a simple parking lot on the west side of Blackman Hill Road.
  • Closing on Bell Station before summer, around 3400 feet of shoreline. This will become a state wildlife management area. There will be decisions to make about trail development coming up.
  • Recently acquired Cayuga Cliffs, about 4300 feet of shoreline. Expect to add 2-3 miles of trail.
  • Storm events have been causing washouts on some trails, especially around Hammond Hill area. FLLT is working with a landscape architect to improve accessibility and reduce effects of storm events.

Michael Ludgate / Friends of Hammond Hill

  • Holding a fundraiser to repair trails with support from the Finger Lakes Runners Club.

Vicki Armstrong / Black Diamond Trail Enthusiasts Network

  • Bike Walk Tompkins is holding a community bike sale in May and looking for donations. A flyer was distributed. BWT is also holding a bike film festival and looking for multimodal transportation mentors. Streets Alive is being held on May 1 on Cayuga St.
  • BDTEN met in the fall and addressed several outstanding items including fixing access to social media accounts.
  • The Village of Trumansburg is updating its Comprehensive Plan. This is an opportunity to plan for extension of the BDT to the village.
  • Approval from the Cayuga Medical Center is needed to formalize a path that extends to BDT. The path will also connect the Museum of the Earth to the trail.
  • Work is ongoing to address invasive plants and BDTEN will coordinate with State Parks on this topic.

Tim Logue / City of Ithaca

  • BDT Bridge over flood control channel needs approvals from Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers. Abutments ready this fall and bridge likely next spring.
  • TAP grants not yet awarded; City is preparing for next round of federal earmarks. In particular, the extension of the South Hill Recreation Way through the former Emerson site, this would be the backbone of the city’s trail network.
  • The city will seek public input on trail connections across Route 13 later this summer.

Bill Goodman / Town of Ithaca

  • Lower gateway trail is finished and the bridge is open! Name is still undetermined, perhaps Kirby Edmonds, or perhaps a naming contest. Upper segment will connect to the South Hill Recreation Way.
  • Two parcels on the lower BDT extension are still in private ownership.
  • Town is working on extension of SHRW out to Middaugh Rd. but was not awarded CFA
    funds for a feasibility study. All towns will need to vote to approve the NYSEG easement.

Bob Beck / Dryden Rail Trail and Nature Conservancy

  • The Nature Conservancy’s O.D. von Engeln Preserve at Malloryville, now open to the public for 20 years, will see some volunteer invasive species control and trail work this summer.
  • The Dryden Rail Trail crossing at Game Farm Road is waiting on approval from County Highway Department who has a concern about safety at this area.
  • The bridge over Route 13 got a negative SEQR declaration. The Final Design Report has been sent to NYSDOT for their review and approval. Construction is likely to start next year. The new Knickerbocker Bed Frame company has agreed to donate the needed property for the eastern bridge ramp. NYS DOT is beginning the property acquisition for the remaining 0.16 acre needed to complete the bridge ramp portion that is on private property.
  • A lack of parking at trail heads has come up as an issue. Looking to expand parking area at Stevenson Road to allow 12-15 vehicles.

Todd Bittner / Cornell Botanic Garden

  • CBC maintains 31 miles of trails.
  • Ice jams on Fall Creek over the winter near Flat Rock. About 1⁄4 mile of ice upstream
    jammed up. Creek separated to flow around ice. Luckily no major damage done to trails, bridges or downstream property. Concern that future ice jams or extreme weather events may cause more damage. Some portions of trails are still under blocks of ice.

Jim Brophy / NYS Parks

  • State parks also experienced substantial flooding and are cleaning up trails, picnic areas, etc.
  • State parks can engage with volunteer groups such as BDTEN and works best with groups that are established as 501c3 non profit organizations.

Michaela Aney / Finger Lakes Trail Conference

  • Tompkins County is host to this year’s Cross County Hikes. First hike is set for April 16, six in total.
  • FLTC is hosting Fall Weekend in Ithaca September 16 – 18, 2022

This is fascinating, thank you so much for sharing!

Bridge over Fall Creek 40 years old… we used it very early in its life for a cross-country invitational with area clubs. Before that (late 70’s) the monthly FLRC meets at the Schoelkopf track included an “English Style” cross-country 10km (very approximately) in which we forded the creek from N to S at the low point on the “bowl” Cornell cross-country trail. The S to N crossing was at Freese Road. The course included the completely un-revised abandoned LV railroad grade that is now the E Ithaca-Dryden trail.

Whoa, real cross-country with stream crossings! Can you remember what the course was and build it on On The Go Map and share it?

Agree Heather! It’s pretty cool to see this all together in one, coordinated place.

I will try… maybe I will go out with Gaia GPS and re-do it. I think I remember it pretty well. Wait till the creek is a little lower – we would do this one in the hot weather, I think the June and July meets.

I can’t find an “On The Go” map in Google Play (I am far too cheap to buy an iPhone, sorry Adam)

Summer is fine—having just mapped the FLRC Challenge Lansing Center Trail course in two inches of mud and water while it was 35 degrees out, I’d like to keep my feet a little drier until it warms up. :cold_face:

On The Go Map is just a website, and it works well in mobile browsers (I presume on Android as well as the iPhone). But it’s easiest to use on a desktop browser. And if you want another worlds-colliding moment, you can read what I wrote about it (and other mapping services that I’ve employed for FLRC) in TidBITS:

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@adamengst Thanks for sharing this! I uncontrollably went and mapped all my common home routes. It is way easier than using the measure distance feature on google maps, and the elevation profiles come for the ride.

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Here is my best recollection. I am not sure about the last part, from the corner by the 2nd Forest Home Bridge in. I’ve shown it going through Forest Home and up the slope behind Mann Library, then cutting across the ag. quad. But it might have gone up the Plantations road, cut through the greenhouses, then down Tower Rd. and Garden back to Schoelkopf. One thing for sure (?) we ended with a 3/4 lap on the track. I think all the road courses did also.

So this “English Style” started with road runners doing a Stevenson-Dodge-Ellis Hollow-Turkey Hill- Stevenson (I think) and then we cut off on the unimproved RR grade.

Interesting—I’ll bet if it went straight up Campus Road and toward the old water tower, it could cross 366 at Triticum Drive and eliminate a bunch of the road.

Something to keep in our pocket for a group run or future event.

Thanks for attending in person and sharing the summary here! I’m really looking forward to seeing these rail trail projects completed to link up so much green space. I’m interested in these meetings but gathering in person in Dryden on a weekday afternoon ain’t never gonna work for me.

I think part of the idea was to run with the road runners as far as Stevenson and give them grief for staying on the roads rather than venturing with us “real runners” onto the trails including the water crossing (as in steeplechase but with real water, slippery rocks, and the threat of snapping turtles or water snakes – but I think the aura of Congdon would be enough to scare off even the hardiest creature). IIRC all the courses started together. I think there might have been a Genung or even Skunk loop at times. Someone must have the notes from the late 70’s meets.