To the editor:
(re: “Vannie nature lovers mourn Putnam Trail paving,” Aug. 15)
I live at the other end of Manhattan from Van Cortlandt Park, but visit it faithfully. The parks in lower Manhattan are manicured and don’t give the feeling of walking in less-tampered-with nature the way Van Cortlandt Park does. Like so many New Yorkers, I’m sustained by and need that environment for sanity.
I thank you for your recent coverage of the plan to pave the Putnam Trail, and hope you’ll continue to educate your readers on the shocking decision by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to use asphalt.
Most of us understand the need to keep the Putnam Trail accommodating to cyclists and accessible to all.
As I notice the cyclists who pass often along the trail, it already seems to be, “but everything changes.”
Several speakers at the meetings and letters were written to the DEP during the decision phase of this change. Most repeatedly urged the use of environmentally friendly materials. At least three — compacted soil, stone dust and psyllium-enforced crushed stone — are less costly, more durable, and all compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
These trail surfaces are used on recreational trails in most national parks. More locally, there are examples of their use in the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx, in Rockefeller State Park, in the Jamaica Nature Preserve, in many Staten Island parks, and the list goes on and on.
New York cares about ecologically sound practices. We have laws on sustainable landscaping, reduction of the use of fossil fuels, clean power, air quality protections, etc. We’re actually the third best city in the United States and Canada on the Siemens Green City Index.
It’s just mystifying that the DEP can choose a petroleum-based, heat-generating, less durable, more expensive, polluting material, which contains known carcinogens (coal tar pitch, as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including benzoapyrene), over the alternatives.
Are we back to the 1950s, or are there other considerations the DEP refuses to disclose?
Don’t we deserve to know why the least ecologically friendly, most expensive to install and maintain material is being used? It’s so hard not to be discouraged and angry at the whittling away of nature.
Thank you again for your coverage.