Gardiner maps out new trail system on landfill property

“I don’t know what somebody was thinking when they said, ‘Let’s make that a landfill.’ It’s probably one of the most beautiful pieces of property in the Town of Gardiner.” That was supervisor Marybeth Majestic’s reaction to a guided tour that she and several other town officials were recently given of a new cycling and hiking trail being proposed on town-owned property surrounding the Gardiner Transfer Station, off Steve’s Lane. The plans for the trail network are being developed by members of the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission.

The large parcel has frontage on the Wallkill River as well as a spectacular view of the Shawangunk cliffs. Councilman Warren Wiegand noted that the best views are from the top of the landfill, where pipes venting methane from the buried garbage may be vulnerable to damage from passersby straying from the official trail as mapped. “Motorbikers are using it anyway,” he warned. Councilwoman Laura Walls agreed that the planners must consider the “unintended consequences of creating something so spectacular. It does need to be thought through fully. And we need to acknowledge that there will be some costs.”

The volunteers backing development of the trail have already identified a suitable area that could be designated for parking, Majestic reported, and the visiting officials determined that it seemed adequate. Wiegand said that the full length of the trail as envisioned seemed designed primarily for mountain bikers and would really only be accessible to very hardy hikers. “To develop a constituency who gets excited about it will need a different trail; you need to open it up to non-bikers…more like a carriage trail.”

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Wiegand and fellow councilman David Dukler agreed to attend the next Parks and Recreation meeting and seek additional details about the group’s recommendations. “The success of it, I think, is inevitable,” said Majestic.

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