Monroe County Parks in Peril
Monroe County parklands are under siege.
Powder Mills Park - This park is next for a Master Plan Revision. It is almost certain that mountain biking will be considered in this park. This park is a jewel in the Southeast corner of Monroe county, used daily by hundreds of people. Opening this park to legal Mt. Biking will create dangerous conditions for all pedestrians (see pedestrian/mt. bike incidents) and cause irreversible destruction to glacial ridges and sensitive wetlands. Read the Ellison Parks Master Plan section to see what similar issues and concerns will come with this change. (Image to right is a comparison of a slope in Bay Park West where no Mt. Biking had been permitted and Tryon park where illegal biking had been tacetly permitted for decades and is now legal.)
Attend this meeting. It is your chance to voice your thoughts for the future of Powder Mills Park.
Protect Powder Mills Park - Facebook Page
Monroe County Website - Powder Mills Park
That fall, requests for proposals were sent to selected developers for a plan that destroys existing habitat while claiming to construct wetlands. This is an attempt to commercialize our parks - to turn them into a revenue producing asset.
The following spring some of the most sensitive forested hillsides in parks along Irondequoit Bay were authorized for mountain biking. The Parks Department ignored grave concerns about safety from multitudes of park users. It ignored concerns about erosion and environmental impacts, raised by many environmental groups. One small special interest group - mountain bikers - had an influence well out of proportion to its size.
None of this bodes well for the future of our Monroe County Parks - a resource valued by many thousands of residents. The Monroe County Parks Department, in the Maggie Brooks administration, has set in motion policies that could cause long-lasting harm to this great natural legacy.
When the early visionaries - Olmsted, Fairchild and others - envisioned setting aside our park lands for the enjoyment of future generations, they chose lands that were rich in natural diversity. Just as Teddy Roosevelt did for Yellowstone. Our parks are a living museum – our legacy to our grandchildren and beyond. Mr. Fairchild and Mr. Olmsted would be horrified to learn that our current park administrators – charged with stewardship of these great resources - misunderstand their critical role.
Our parks are not a playground to be used in just about any way that a special interest group desires. Our parks are not a commodity to sell. They are our legacy.
Issues Concerning Our Parks
Parks at Risk of Irreversible Changes:
Wetland Mitigation Banks (Black Creek Park)
Fiscal crisis has caused our current county administration to target our parks for exploitation in the form of constructed wetlands. Last year, a feasibility study was conducted for the County to investigate placing constructed wetlands, known as “mitigation wetland banks” in our parks. A county Department of Environmental Services presentation given in July of 2009 described the selection of Monroe County Parks for wetland mitigation simply due to their accessibility. Black Creek Park is at the top of both studies. Parks Director Larry Staub stated at a PAC (Parks Advisory Committee) meeting that this is an acceptable use of our parks and fits with park purposes.
Right: Fencing at recently identified mitigation site in Black Creek Park.
Below: "Wetland" created at Black Creek Park in 2006 to mitigate wetlands taken at county airport.
Ellison Area Parks - County allows Mt. Bikes in Master Plan - The 6 Parks surrounding Irondequoit Bay were part of a recent Master Plan revision done with lipservice to "public input", "community partnerships" and "meeting needs of the community", but in reality was created with one special interest group in mind. There was no consideration of the unique and fragile geological terrain, safety of current users or the public outcry against this plan. This special interest group had the inside political and possibly financial connection. The remaining Parks users, you, do not have this connection. Read More
Oatka Creek Park - Turned into Soccer Fields. This meadow once known and enjoyed for its Bluebirds and rich butterfly diversity was chosen as a site for two new soccer fields. The community - the parks users - was not informed or included in the decision. No study was done, it was simply deemed that there was no impact. Our parks should not be allowed to be altered with so little thought or regard to their natural legacy to appeal to a special interest group - especially when additional space exists at the public school campus not more than 2 miles away.
For more information about Oatka Creek Park: Friends of Oatka Creek Park Blog
UPDATE: "Friends of Oatka Creek Park" lost the case to protect this field on the grounds that "while no formal fields have ever existed in the park, the affected land has been frequently used in the past for athletic activity. The proposed physical improvements are merely designed to accommodate increased utilization of the park's and are minimally intrusive, involving no structural erection."
In other words, this is an improvement and not a loss to our Parks. Read Decision.