Below are letters in regard to the BDT submitted to the parks authorities.. We were prepared to take everyone’s contributions seriously, pro or con; but only one opponent of trail development sent us a copy of his comments.


  • Lesley Greene
  • Jennifer Dotson & Maria Coles
    City of Ithaca Alderwomen, First Ward
  • David Kay
  • George Frantz
  • Barbara Hotchkiss
  • Mary Shelley
  • Conrad Metcalfe
  • Warren A. Brown
  • Steve Gabriel
  • Ken Walkup
  • Samantha Roberts
  • Bob Riter
  • Carol Whitlow
  • Jason Koski
  • Pam Gueldner
  • Michael Meador
  • Brenda Smith
  • Jack Rueckheim, President, Cayuga Nordic Ski Club
  • Herman Sieverding,
    President, Ithaca Triathlon Club
  • Michelle  Bamberger
  • David Ruppert, President of Finger Lakes Cycling Club
  • Jeff Bateman
  • Johanna Stebbins
  • Susan McCutcheon
  • John M. Andersson, President of Cayuga Trails Club
  • Andrea Dutcher
  • Marilyn Kane
  • Susan P. Ashdown
  • Roger Hopkins
  • Ellen Z. Harrison,
  • David Henderson
  • Amy Bukowski
  • Joan Lawrence
  • Jonathan A. Bernstein
  • Herb Engman
  • Edw. J. Sidote
  • Steven Powell


  1. Richard L. Leed

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

I am writing to express my enthusiastic support for the proposed Black Diamond Trail. I look forward to biking and walking with my family, friends, and out of town guests on a path that links the area’s beautiful parks.

Please consider building the trail faster than the proposed five to seven years for phase I. There is great support in the community for this trail, and many organizations and individuals who would gladly volunteer time, effort, and resources to help build what will be a tremendous asset to the community.

Thank you for moving this plan forward!

Lesley Greene, Ithaca

Comments on Black Diamond Trail Draft Master Plan & Environmental Impact Statement

As representatives of the First Ward of the City of Ithaca, which includes sections of the Black Diamond Trail, we would like to express our strong support for progress on the construction of this trail as soon as possible. Our constituents, and residents of other City wards, consistently express interest in and support for this trail as both a recreational and transportation way. I will not go into the many benefits of trails near to neighborhoods and employment centers.

This trail is an important piece of a countywide trail system supported by the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council and other local governmental entities, including the City of Ithaca. This countywide trail system also connects to statewide trail systems. We look forward to the implementation of this trail with local input, as we know the residents of all wards of the City of Ithaca will benefit from its availability.

Respectfully, we submit the following comments on the draft Master Plan:

  • Construction on the trail should start as soon as possible. We urge State Parks to strongly consider construction phasing that creates more and longer usable sections of the trail, and linkages with other transportation and recreation ways, as soon as possible. Creation of more and longer usable trail sections should be prioritized over final completion of trail sections.
  • We support the entirety of the comments of the City of Ithaca Planning & Development Board submitted January 15, 2008.
  • Coordination among entities should be a priority as State Parks implements the Master Plan, particularly as the trail interfaces with the City’s Southwest Natural Area and Southwest development, as well as with the proposed Gateway Trail.
  • Public input and opportunities for public participation in construction should be part of the implementation of the Black Diamond Trail Master Plan.

Jennifer Dotson & Maria Coles
City of Ithaca Alderwomen, First Ward

Comments on Black Diamond Trail DEIS

  • Commendations – The Black Diamond Trail will be an extraordinary community asset for the whole region, and particularly for those of us who live on West Hill. It is good to see this project moving forward substantively in the first decade of the 21st century.
  • Timing – When I first came to Tompkins County as young man, I lived at 1375 Taughannock Boulevard and tried to commute to Cornell by bicycle along the Rte 89 corridor. I soon gave up, in no small part because of concerns about traffic along the highway. But when I later learned about the railroad right of way, I looked forward to the day when I might eventually be able to commute by bike or x-country ski along this corridor. That commuting option didn’t happen for me, but it can for others. After I moved into the city, I more or less forgot about the corridor until 1987, when I moved to Hook Place on West Hill. Then I rediscovered the southern end of the right of way as a wonderful place for recreational skiing, which I have continued to this day. I soon heard about plans for the Black Diamond Trail, and looked forward to being able to ski past the obstructions I had always run into, e.g. to the north of the hospital property. A few years later, I had children, and taught them to ride their bicycles in Cass Park, thinking that someday it would be great to take them along a BDT that would be developed. For a while they had no need of the BDT, as other trails offered better options for little kids. However, there was essentially no place closer than the wonderful newly developing Erie Canal trail to take the children when they got to be old enough that existing trails were too short to be of interest and onroad riding was still too anxiety provoking. Bottom line: it’s been a long time coming, and there should be a sense of urgency in implementation. Using any kind of reasonable discount factor, the foregone benefits of the trail for my generation and my childrens’ have been substantial.
  • More generally, the length and location of the BDT are a critical factor in diversifying the range of recreational opportunities available to people in this region. Although my children will be out of my home by the time the BDT is substantially complete, perhaps their children, their friends, and many other adults who are recreationists and/or commuters will be able to benefit from a safe, off road trail that goes for more than a few miles.
  • It should be emphasized more strongly that the BDT is part of larger network of trails available to recreational cyclists within the region. For example, while noted in passing in the DEIS, the opportunities for coordination, especially with the Erie Canal trail system, especially as the BDT is within the Erie Canal Heritage Corridor (which should be clarified and fully articulated), should be front and center. The function of the trail as a bicycle pedestrian linkage between the parks and population centers, and also as an amenity WITHIN the population centers, is as if not more critical than the function of the trail as a link between state parks.
  • The Friends of the Trail model is important and requires ongoing development and support; it represents a key element for realizing the full potential of the trail.
  • The contents of the 1983 tripartite (intergovernmental) agreement are repeatedly referenced, but the exact language doesn’t appear to be provided. Although I’m writing as an individual, as a member of several City of Ithaca boards (Planning and Development, Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Council), it is impossible to fully evaluate the DEIS without having a clear understanding of what is in that tripartite agreement. With all the time that has passed, it seems particularly important that there be clarity and consensus in the expectations that all parties have of each other. Along these lines, at least one map annotates the Gateway Bridge over NY Route 13 as “to be” constructed by city. As a matter of being up to date, the bridge is already there, as acknowledged in other parts of the document. More importantly, the DEIS notes that the City is to construct the spur trail from the BDT to the Gateway bridge on the old railroad grade. Without the language, the reader cannot tell exactly how this is consistent with past agreements. The same is true regarding the map note: Trailhead for Natural Area by City of Ithaca. Where responsibilities are clearly stated, the basis for this responsibility should also be clear.
  • Page IV-45 The discussion of support amenities does not explicitly mention, but presumably includes potable/drinking water? Is there any potential for a trailhead warming hut for x-country skiers – at the Nature Center, for example?
  • Page IV-49 – this section mentions snowmobile use of the trail on “a segment near Taughannock Falls State Park”, but earlier language addresses snowmobile use with more general language about connecting snowmobile trails. Is it clear that there is only one segment of the trail where this general language is relevant? The specific segment should be clearly specified and the potential precedent of the general language should be evaluated.
  • Page V-52 – Here and in other parts of the DEIS, reference is made to parcels that are not yet acquired within the right of way. The reader cannot easily evaluate the significance of these missing links in the chain without seeing a map with their precise location, shape, and other parcel identifying information.
  • Figure V-8 shows an alternate Trail Route, actually listed as preferred by OPRHP, but primarily for reasons of cost. There are a number of potential advantages of this route in providing public access to the BDT trail for residents and other users of the southwest natural area, the proposed new southwest neighborhood, as well as for others in the busy shopping areas nearby, all of which have parking potentially accessible as well. As the city develops its 62 acres of land in the southwest, the opportunity and necessity of linking the new neighborhood with its surrounding amenities will become paramount. The potential for a direct linkage between the heart of downtown and the BDT, in relation to this neighborhood, will be on the table. While acknowledging the difficulty of negotiating for a new railroad crossing with the railroad, the DEIS should commit the BDT development process to close strategic coordination with the City and Town regarding issues of access across the tracks to and from the Southwest Natural area and to and from the proposed southwest development on the former Southwest Park site.

David Kay, Ithaca NY

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

I write in support of the proposed Black Diamond Trail. As a regional planner and educator in the planning and design of bicycle and pedestrian facilities I see the Black Diamond trail as an investment in both transportation and recreation with tremendous potential public benefit.

It has now been a quarter century since the project was conceived. For the past twenty years I have been practicing as a professional planner here in Ithaca and the surrounding region. In that time I have overseen the design, right of way acquisition and construction of the Town of Ithaca South Hill Recreation Way, the preliminary design for the recently completed William and Hannah Pew bikeway by the Town of Ithaca and design development for a third bikeway within the City of Ithaca. I’ve watch as the Cayuga Waterfront Trail and the Catherine bikeway in Schuyler and Chemung County have been conceived and moved forward.

Throughout this time I have seen the Black Diamond trail project shelved three or four times.

The Black Diamond Trail will be an enormous local and regional asset upon its completion. In addition to its recreational value it affords the opportunity for additional bicycle and pedestrian facilities to be developed on West Hill and in the growing Inlet Valley area of the Town of Ithaca, and give residents in these areas a true alternative to the automobile.

It will also provide residents in the Trumansburg and Town of Ulysses, West Hill and the Inlet Valley a viable bicycle commuter route into Ithaca, reducing traffic within the congested Route 96, 13 and 13A highway corridors while promoting healthy lifestyles and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Just build the stupid thing.

George Frantz


Lake Champlain Trail, Burlington, VT


To: Daniel.Davis, Thomas.Lyons:

First of all, I would like to compliment the involved parties on the dedicated work they’ve put into the planned Black Diamond Trail (BDT) project thus far, including the opportunities for public input, and the readability and thoroughness of the Master Plan/dEIS (11/07). Having worked on similarly complex projects in the past (primarily as the Tompkins County Recycling Coordinator (’89-’99) assisting in the implementation of the countywide recycling and household haz waste programs, as well as in my capacity as a member of Ithaca Conservation Advisory Council and Tompkins County EMC, A large tip of the hat is also due to the BDT Enthusiast Network, in thanks for all their hard work! Many of us in the network consider ourselves fortunate to benefit from their continual efforts! I REALLY appreciate the time and energy (dare I say, passion and commitment!!) involved in making such important ideals become worthwhile realities!

I am, happily, a neighbor of the BDT. Indeed, in 1993, I moved from Ithaca and purchased my home on Agard Rd., in part because of its location contiguous to the BDT, projected at that time to be completed within 10 years.. My interest in investing in property nearby such a trail was manifold: I wanted to have a safe, viable alternative to automobile travel if I relocated outside of Ithaca. I work in Ithaca, and recreate all over the County, and actively explore options to enact the wisdom behind the adage: Think globally and act locally. By reducing my use of, and dependence on, my fossil-fuel consumptive vehicle, I hope to do my part to reduce global warming. To me, it just makes good economic, environmental, and health (physical & psychological) sense to decrease dependence on fossil fuel, and to responsibly plan ahead and create real opportunities for people to get where they would like to go by alternative modes of transit! The BDT does just that, as a beautiful byway for walking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, and possibly horseback riding. This trail has always seemed like the best of ideas: A boon for trail neighbors; a recreational opportunity for the community-at-large, and a long overdue gift to our natural environment.

Having waited so long for it to be constructed, I know I’m not alone in wanting to see the BDT plan evolve quickly and cost-effectively from words and images on paper, to a traversable path under foot. To that end ~ and to enable informal use of the trail, as is ~ I would very much appreciate it if priority attention would be given to fixing, and providing access to, the currently inaccessible sections of the path, including disabled bridges.

The many trails I’ve traveled by foot, bike, ski and horse back (and combinations thereof, including the one in Burlington, VT above) have NEVER been as wide as proposed for the BDT. If this facet of the plan is one that is limiting progress on, and/or causing cost increases on the BDT, I would hope that this be reexamined and the trail be reduced in size!

As a BDT neighbor and principled environmentalist, I am vehemently opposed to the use of snowmobiles, or any other motorized vehicles, on the trail. This completely defeats the purpose as far as I am concerned, and is, in addition to supporting the unhealthy use of fuel for recreation, adding to air and noise pollution. There are plenty of places for users of such vehicles to ride, without allowing them on the BDT. The use of the BDT by such noisy, smelly nuisances is in complete contradiction to the beneficial potential of the trail for healthy exercise in fresh air and the quiet of nature! Anyone exposed to the stench and noisiness of a snow-mobile while trying to quietly recreate, will corroborate how awful it is. Anyone who has stayed within 10 miles of a trail that allows the use of motorized vehicles will attest to how incredibly obnoxious these vehicles can be; their loud roars carry for miles and have literally kept us awake at night in the middle of isolated countryside!

I do believe, on the other hand, that horseback riding should be allowed on the BDT. The Amish and the Mennonites, along with mounted police, have shared thoroughfares for years, cooperatively commingling infrastructure uses.

Finally, I hope that you will let the many enthusiastic community members who have been anticipating this trail’s creation for decades, myself included, help in whatever ways we can bring this wonderful community project to fruition! Here’s to bringing it from its current state, as a diamond in the rough, to a polished gem for all to enjoy, as soon as possible!!

Most enthusiastically yours,
Barbara Hotchkiss

Hello Daniel Davis and Thomas Lyons,

I was very heartened to hear that the Black Diamond Trail will be moving along. I am a property owner in the Town of Ulysses who is very excited about the possibility of using this trail.

However, I urge you to progress more quickly than the projected extended time frame. Using local volunteer labor, there is no reason why the project between between Cass Park and Taughannock Park cannot progress more quickly, say in a year. Lots of bikers and walkers are currently forced into using Route 96, which is very dangerous considering the high volume of garbage trucks now using this road. Please complete the Black Diamond Trail before someone is killed or injured on the highway, I beg you.

Thanks for listening to my concerns,
Mary Shelley

I strongly support the Black Diamond trail and would like to see it open to non-motorized access only. A trail that is useful to as many people as possible must ultimately have as little impact as possible on the community it passes through, and I think limiting it to pedestrians is the best way to minimize impact on those so gracious as to open up their private lands for a public venue. Snowmobilers and 4-wheelers and vehicular traffic on the Black Diamond trail would disrupt the beauty that the trail strives to encapsulate. A walking trail that’s open to bicycles and horses will have a tendency to connect people from one end of the trail to the other. We can all appreciate the beauty of the area if we are allowed to do so, and this brings people together in their appreciation.

Thankyou for your consideration,

Conrad Metcalfe, Ithaca, NY

I live in the Town of Ulyssess on Willow Creek Point Road and am writing in support of the Black Diamond Trail. From my anticipated use of the trail, and use by others I think there are the following benefits:

  1. Transportation alternative. I frequently ride my bike part-way to work, catching the bus at the Hospital. I would prefer to ride on the Black Diamond Trail to downtown Ithaca. Also on weekends for recreation, I would prefer to ride my bike to Cass Park or Taughannock Falls instead of driving my car. Riding a bike on Route 89 is not an alternative. I have ridden on Route 89 three times­and lived. I won’t be tempting fate again.
  2. Healthy alternative. I ride my bike on weekends for exercise and the Black Diamond Trail will be an excellent recreation trail and source of healthy exercise.
  3. Tourism and Economic Development. My wife and I enjoy driving to bike trails and riding for a day, two or three. There are many persons just like us who enjoy bicycle trip related tourism and would be drawn to the Black Diamond Trail.
  4. Family fun! I have four grandsons and enjoy biking and hiking with the those who are old enough. I can think of few activities that will be more fun and add more to the quality of my life than to safely bike with them on the Black Diamond Trail.
  5. Maintenance and volunteerism. I have participated in a few of the volunteer trail clearing activities for the trail. There are many just like me, and working collectively as well as adopting section of the trail, we would work to maintain the trail and reduce the public expense.

Warren A. Brown,
Ithaca, NY

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

As Land Use Manager of Cayuga Nature Center, located in the Town of Ulysses along the Black Diamond Trail, I offer my support for the implementation or the proposed Master Plan. We see the trail as a vital and important link between Ithaca and Trumansburg, providing a variety of opportunities for recreation and transportation. I myself have often used the trail in its current state to ride my bike from my home in Ithaca, to work at CNC. I would enjoy the elimination of hazards and difficult terrain that makes the trail unusable during inclement weather, low light, etc. I know that the trail is well worth the investment.

The Cayuga Nature Center would be willing to work in partnership with the trail to establish a rest area on our land which intersects with the trail along Dubois Rd. We could likely install benches and a kiosk, with the hope of encouraging visitors to ride the short distance to the lodge to explore our exhibits or participate in an event. We would advertise the trail as a path to access CNC, as well as promote bike riding to events.

We look forward to seeing this project move forward in a timely manner.


Steve Gabriel, Land Use Manager, Cayuga Nature Center

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

I’m writing this in support of the Black Diamond Trail. While I know state funds are limited, this proposed trail would seem to deserve a high priority. Linear parks are very popular everywhere; during the holiday season, I visited two in Michigan while seeing my in-laws out there. The fact that this trail would connect Taughannock State Park to the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, and thus eventually to two other state parks, makes it an especially valuable link. I frequently use the East Hill Recway and the South Hill Recway, two former railroad bed parks in the town of Ithaca, and would love to have a similar trail closer to where I live. The easy grade would make this an attractive bicycle commuter route; also, many riders who wouldn’t consider using NY Rt. 96 because of the heavy traffic, would love to have this option.

Proximity to educational facilities, such as the Museum of the Earth and the Cayuga Nature Center, should be considered too.

Ken Walkup, town of Enfield

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

Thank you for taking the time to listen to our opinions. :)

I first moved to Ithaca the summer of 2005 as a non-traditional Graduate student at Cornell. Never in my life did I expect that I would want to make roots here, but this town has created that urge in me! Student though I am I will be looking to buy property instead of renting, and will be a permanent part of this community.

I tell you this because the resonance I feel with the town has to do with community, and this sense of community for me has been found at the entrance to many trailheads where I would meet and make friends as we prepared to run and hike and bike. Be this at the waterfront trail, at Hammond Hill, or at some entrance to the Fingerlakes Trail. As a person that embraces an outdoor active lifestyle which is shared by many like minded people in this area, the addition of another trail, especially such a practical commuter trail, (providing access through an area that is a scary place to be on a bicycle sharing crowded roads with cars!) …. I wholeheartedly believe the Black Diamond Trail would be such a wonderful asset to the area and to us all!

Looking at the plans, and having hiked part of the trail, I see there is a bulk of work to be done, but I also fail to see why the projected completion dates are so far out. I am in favor of the first phase goal to give access from beginning to end, including the bridges, however unrefined this may be. Then, in subsequent stages, go back to sculpt, pave and otherwise finsih and beautify. I think have a “working” yet rugged trail would in itself be exciting, and would provide excited momentum and perhaps even more assistance to finish. (Perhaps this single move of making the whole stretch available could prevent us from having this discussion again a decade or three down the road!)

As a runner and a biker and a commuter, I am in favor of having a section of the trail unpaved allowing for runners/hikers who do not prefer paved surfaces. I think that this is very very important. And of UTMOST importance, this trail should not be used for motorized access at all. This, in my opinion, would destroy the outdoor haven that was able to steer us away from all of the noise and the carbon producing vehicles around us, the haven that the Black Diamond Trail would provide. I believe the trail should be as narrow as possible, as it does feel good to be “in the woods”, yet not on a full blown road. It would be nice if the finished design had a winding creativity so that something other than a straight strip of road was not laying before you.

Thank you all SO much for working with all of us in the public to negotiate these plans. Please let the Black Diamond Trail become a reality, and please lets do it sooner than later!

Samantha Roberts, Ithaca, NY

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

I live on the flood control channel in Ithaca and part of the Black Diamond Trail runs immediately adjacent to my property.

I think the BDT is a terrific concept and I support it enthusiastically. People already walk beside my house because it’s a natural walkway. Being part of the BDT would make it safer and more welcoming.

I’d love to see it happen.

Bob Riter, Ithaca, NY

Dear Mr. Lyons,

The Black Diamond Trail around Ithaca is such an exciting opportunity to implement the healthy, positive values that we want to instill in our communities and families. Thank you for helping to make this a reality.

What values?

  1. Exercise: maintaining healthy bodies through regular physical activity is the main solution to most illnesses, physical and mental. Being able to walk in nature, removed from traffic, noise and pollution, is an enticement and reinforcer. Just look at the use of the South Hill trail to see how popular this concept is.
  2. Family time: A trail like this has something for everyone of every age, from infant in backpacks to kids on bikes to older persons who need an easier slope than the local parks offer.
  3. Friendship time: Time to walk and talk with others, a place to go with new or old friends, while exercising, while not having to sit in a restaurant buying unneeded calories or caffeine.
  4. Destressing: Time spent exercising, in nature, away from high stimulation of business areas, is essential for mental health and well-being and life quality.
  5. Economic vitality in the community: Ecotourism is increasingly popular. People want to travel to destinations where they can DO something. Parents bringing their children to college will spend and extra day or two, weekenders from big cities will choose this as a destination with many options, from walking to cultural offerings to dining and shopping interests.

Thank you again for all you can do to speed along the process of this Trail development,

Carol Whitlow, Ithaca, NY

Mr. Davis & Mr. Lyons

I recently attended the hearing on December 6 at the Racker Center and was thrilled to see the amount of support behind the Black Diamond Trail. As is common with the electoral process in this country, it seems that the number of people who venture out in public to share their opinion are but a small representation of those who actually have one. In this case nearly all the people who spoke seemed to be in favor of the trail with varying degrees of certainty.

I fully support any effort to make this trail a reality. Although it is a little frustrating to read of people who have watched their children grow up and move away while this proposal sits on a desk in Albany I find it uplifting to know that these same people have not given up the struggle. If only we had to make such an effort to have new roads built for our automobiles….people may have given up and started walking or biking!

I live in Trumansburg and work in Ithaca. Spend a few minutes along Rt96 or 89 any weekday morning or evening and you will find a couple thousand others just like me. It is quite obvious that our roads are reaching maximum capacity. Hop on the #21 bus at 7:30am and you will find that there are very few empty seats. Nearly every day there is some new face: someone who got sick of paying for gas, their car is broken, some are too old or too young to drive and i think there are even a few who feel that we just don;t need any more cars on the road. I’m thankful for that valuable service but it does not fit the needs of everyone. So with more cars on the road, more people on the busses and likely more to come in the near future where does that leave us?

The Black Diamond Trail, I believe, is one investment that will help alleviate some of the stresses on our roads, pocketbooks, communities and bodies.

I ride my bike at least 6 days a week. I use it during work, to get to and from work, to get groceries & burn off a few calories but it is really hard to separate what some would call “recreational cycling” from my transportation needs. This balance is what i think many people look for in their lives but little can find the time or additional money for. The Black Diamond Trail will offer that balance to people in MANY ways. Personally I would use the trail as a safe and enjoyable way to make the 1 hour commute to Ithaca. Along the way I would likely encounter a few tourists, maybe a group of students working on a nature project or maintaining the trail as part of a service project. There would be locals walking or biking to see a friend who lives just down the road. A friend they currently have to drive to see because it is too unsafe or noisy for a walk along Rt89. Make this trip regularly and you might get to know some of these people. Can many of us say that we know something about the thousands of people who whiz by us in their cars everyday? Call it transportation, call it recreation…..the BDT will be both to most who use this trail.

Whatever your purpose I believe this trail needs to be made so that it is safe and efficient for all users. I believe there need to be markings separating pedestrians from cyclists….there tends to be a little speed difference between the two. I also think a fine crushed gravel surface would help the trail blend in with the environment, make it easier and more cost effective to repair and may keep speeds reasonable for cyclists (12-15mph). Since gravity does not work in favor of a 3 ton car trying to stop while traveling down Perry City Road I also think it makes sense for trail users to yield to motor vehicles at most crossings.

3.9 million dollars may seem like a heck of a lot of money to all of us, but consider the alternatives. Should we scrap the BDT, how much would that get us on the good’ol highway system? It’ll fix some potholes, pay for a few signs that say “Rough Road Ahead” and might even buy a handful of those energy efficient LED traffic lights for us to sit beneath every couple blocks. But that’s not your only cost if you take into account wear and tear on your road and vehicle, gas, allocated land use, the environment and our communities. By far our own two feet and human powered transportation are the most cost effective, energy efficient means of getting from AtoB. Although I would hope we can get this figure down by labor contributions from interested parties I think nearly any amount we pay will be a worthy investment in the future as we begin to second guess our over-reliance on automobiles. I have seen other cities spend dollar after dollar adding lanes to their highways and as soon as they build it there’s STILL a traffic problem. Let’s get people AWAY from automobiles and I think you’ll see more people choosing the non-motorized option. We just need that option badly before someone is killed.

As far as i know money has already been allocated to repair bridges along this corridor. Thanks to whoever put the OK stamp on that one. But all that money is wasted if we don;t open this trail up to be used by our community.

thank you
jason koski

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

I am writing to tell you that I whole heartedly support the creation of the Black Diamond Trail. The parks in Ithaca are so enjoyable, it would be fantastic to be able to walk to the parks from downtown. I would use the trail for biking and hiking, and I know many of my friends would also. I love the peace and quite of the woods and the ability to access that much natural beauty.

I think that motorized vehicles should not be permitted on the trails. If I knew that snowmobiles and ATVs were allowed on the trails, I would not want to be hiking or biking on those same trails. The vehicles are loud and the smell of the exhaust is bad. When I am walking in the woods, I only want to hear the sounds of birds, gurgling water, and silence. Motorized vehicles would detract greatly from my quiet enjoyment of these trails.

I co-own a cafe on The Commons and appreciate the tourist traffic that our state parks attract. I believe having the Black Diamond Trail system would encourage more tourists to visit Ithaca, which is great for our local economy.

Pam Gueldner, Ithaca, NY

Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

As a 20-year resident of Tompkins County, a previous Tourism Promotion Official of a state park system, and someone whose company provides support to the tourism industry, I write to enthusiastically endorse the rapid completion of the Black Diamond Trail.

The all-season usage possibilities for the trail provides an ideal complement to both the growing regional tourism industry and to the existing recreational opportunities for residents. I believe that the cost of creation, maintenance, and management of the trail will be paid back manifold by the positive economic impact the trail will generate by users, to say nothing of the improvement to the quality of life for residents.

I strongly support a no-motorized-vehicles policy for the trail. Allowing motorized vehicles would create safety hazards and would present legitimate cause for objections from adjacent landowners and residents regarding noise and security. I also endorse the concept of opening appropriate sections of the trail for limited use as soon as possible.

Thank you for your ongoing service to the citizenry of the region.


Michael Meador, Ithaca, NY

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

I write in support of the proposed Black Diamond Trail in Ithaca, NY. I lived in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area during the period of 2004-2006, an area that has about 35 miles of greenway trails. Being new to the area, I was grateful to have a safe, easy to find place where I could put my son in a trailer and tow it behind my bike, get some much needed exercise, and often meet new people while we were out! While I used it mostly for recreational purposes, I know that there were many, many people who used those trails to commute back and forth to work every day. I know that there would be a great number of people who would use the BDT to commute back and forth from T-burg/West Hill to Ithaca every day as well.

Trails of this nature also provide a safe place for people to get into cycling. When I first began cycling here in the Ithaca area back in 2002, I went to the South Hill & East Hill trails, which soon proved to be much too short for a good workout on a bike. I think new cyclists would find the trail extremely encouraging in the pursuit of their new hobby.

I would encourage that money be set aside to provide education for trail users–that pedestrians have the right of way, always, but that those pedestrians need to be alert and aware that others may be coming up behind them. Dogs and kids need to be under control, so I would also encourage that there be a leash rule imposed and enforced. I also do not think that snowmobiles should be allowed on the BDT. They are loud, fast, and I think they would disrupt the entire atmosphere of the trail.

I fully support the development of the BDT. I really hope to see this come to fruition in the next few years though, not the next 10-15!!

Best regards,
Brenda Smith, Ithaca, NY

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons:

This letter is to notify you that the Cayuga Nordic Ski Club strongly supports timely construction of the proposed Black Diamond Trail. A 2-3 year completion date would be more suitable than the 5-7 year tome frame that has been mentioned. CNSC is a group of approximately 100 persons who combine a desire for physical fitness with love for the outdoors. We are also interested in the preservation and protection of the environment. CNSC believes that the BDT would contribute to these elements in the Ithaca area as a skiing venue in the winter (when we get snow!) and a training trail during the off-season.
Thank you very much for your consideration to CNSC’s input.


Jack Rueckheim, CNSC President

Dear Sirs:

I am writing on behalf of the Ithaca Triathlon Club, a nearly 140-member organization based in Ithaca, New York, in support of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historeic Preservation’s efforts to develop the Black Diamond Trail. There are few, if any, projects that have been proposed in this community that have the potential to benefit a greater number of people than the Black Diamond Trail. The trail, and its linkages to local trail construction projects such as the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, will provide the residents of Tompkins County and its many visitors a unique oppor5tunity to travel to all four State Parks and two City Parks on an off-road, multi-use trail facility.

The Ithaca Triathlon Club is in full support of this project. The Club, as yoj may know, sponsors the Cayuga Lake Triathlon, which is held at Taughannock Ralls State Park every August. Last year we had over 600 race participants and well over 1,000 spectators come to the Park to take part in this event. The Black Diamond Trail will provide a very scenic, alternate way for Cayuga Lake Triathlon participants and spectators to travel from Ithaca to the Park. In addition, the Trail will also provide a wonderful run and bike training venue for our members and all others in this community who value what will be a truly unique outdoor recreational experience.

There is however one aspect of this project that does concern us and that is the implementation schedule. It is hard to realize how a project that was conceived nearly 30 years ago will still take another 5 to 7 years to realize, and that is only for Phase One. We understand the difficulty in securing funding commitments, but surely there must be a faster way to realize this important community project. If you think there are ways orgtanizations such as ours can help in this effort, please let us know.

Herman Sieverding
President, Ithaca Triathlon Club

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

I am writing to show my great support for the approval and completion of the Black Diamond Trail.

I live along the northern part of the trail, and have hiked along part of it as it traverses a nearby country road. I am sincerely hoping that the trail will be begun in earnest so that folks like myself can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and get some exercise on what promises to be a fantastic local hiking trail.  My husband and I would be very interested in helping out with the work to clear and maintain the trail, and I am quite sure that there are many others like ourselves who would be interested in doing so.

Please feel free to contact me if you need to have a more detailed commentary.  I look forward to hearing that the Black Diamond Trail has gained approval and greatly anticipate hiking and biking on the finished trail.

Michelle  Bamberger

To the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation:

The Finger Lakes Cycling Club wishes to endorse the speedy implementation of the Black Diamond Trail plan.

Our membership includes

  • many recreational cyclists who yearn for safe out-of-traffic places to bicycle
  • many cyclists with children who need opportunities to enjoy cycling together as families
  • snow-bound cyclists in winter who turn to cross-country skiing for an alternative enjoyment of the outdoors as well as training for the return of cycling weather
  • people who rely on bicycles for their transportation needs who are desperate for an alternative to NY 96 (Cliff Street) north of Ithaca
  • young cyclists who could gain cycling skill and experience on an extended network of off-road paths

Thus far historically, the needs of these people remain unmet in Ithaca and Tompkins County. While we do have some trail development, the total trail stock is only a very few miles and those bits are not interconnected in any useful way. The Black Diamond Trail promises to be the backbone of a new regional alternative transportation system – itself connecting the four state parks and Cass Park, but also providing connections to Stewart Park (via the Waterfront Trail) and the South Hill Recreation Way via another spur. This will be a system that will finally provide meaningful options to those who won’t or can’t use cars for their transportation needs.

We urge the New York State OPRHP to give its highest priority to finding ways to open the Black Diamond Trail to users within two years. A way must be found to incorporate the many sources of aid in this project that stand ready to pitch in. Our children must not miss the opportunities the BDT can offer them; and the older generation deserves to see completion of a project they have been waiting for since the 1970s.

Finger Lakes Cycling Club
David Ruppert, President, on behalf of the Board of Directors

I view the proposed construction along the Black Diamond Trail to the north of Ithaca as an ecological disaster. The trail already exists as a rare unspoiled pathway immune to posting by landowners. It allows hikers to be in intimate contact with nature and to enjoy the presence of nature’s creatures sure to be scared off by other sorts of traffic, whether bicycles, snowmobiles, or maintenance vehicles.

Don’t spoil it, don’t pave it, don’t make it unsafe, don’t interfere with nature. Do nothing.

Richard L. Leed, Ithaca, NY

Dear Mr. Lyons & Mr. Davis,

Thank you very much for your hard work in bringing forward the moment when area residents and visitors might enjoy the proposed Black Diamond Trail, in the beautiful Finger Lakes region. As active cyclists, my friends and I very much look forward to a time when we can enjoy north/south travel to the west of Cayuga Lake, without having to compete with traffic on roads, particularly as those routes would be the busy and dangerous state routes 89 or 96.

As a former resident of England, I was able to enjoy hundreds of miles of bridleways and other off-road routes, some as rights-of-way dating back hundreds of years, others as much more recent developments. The cycle network campaign charity group Sustrans has been instrumental in implementing thousands of miles of routes around the country via traffic-free paths and quiet roads. They even won a recent, major bid for £50 million (about $100M) in lottery funds through a televised competition voted on by the public, for delivering more off-road routes (“Connect2”). People really do use these routes for commuting and recreation; indeed, some have been so successful that widening schemes have been necessary to cope with the bike and pedestrian traffic volume! Perhaps there may be lessons we could learn here from folks in the old country?

I have lived in Ithaca for 10 years, and currently reside just off Snyder Hill Road. The new Pew Trail, a welcome addition completed last year by the Town of Ithaca, has certainly made my commute to downtown Ithaca much more pleasant. It is not a long trail, but well worthwhile, as riding up the hill is now far more enjoyable without the threat of vehicles speeding past at 50+ MPH while I try to manage maybe 6 or 7 MPH. Neighbors with children in tow (literally!) can also now navigate East Hill in relative safety.

For sure, the Black Diamond trail will serve a similar purpose for the many commuters living on West Hill. The impressive trail network maps on show at the public meetings in December 07 hold much promise for improved commutes and leisure rides for many. I hope things move forward post haste – 30 years is an awfully long time to have waited! It also just happens to be about the same duration that Sustrans has been in existence. Sorry, I can’t help comparing rates of progress on either side of the Atlantic – it is nothing short of a tragedy that America is taking so long to recognize the benefits of oil-free transportation.

Best regards,
Jeff Bateman,
Ithaca, NY

To whom it may concern:

I am a supporter of the proposed Black Diamond Trail in Tompkins County. I am confident that the trail will be used by many people, most importantly, by people who will rely on it for their commute from home to work and back. Now, more than ever given our country’s oil crisis, our governing bodies should be completing transportation projects designed for commuting that does not involve the automobile. The Black Diamond Trail is such a project. Let’s break ground on this project!

I firmly believe that snowmobiles should not be allowed to use the trail because they are incredibly dangerous.

Thank you,
Johanna Stebbins

Dear Thomas Lyons,

Our family moved to a home on the entrance to Lower Robert Treman State Park in 1991. It is the most wonderful place to live. Robert Treman State Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park and Taughannock Falls State Park are all very special places for residents of Ithaca. After we moved and heard about the possibility of the Black Diamond Trail connecting these state parks with a path for hikers and bikers, I immediately wanted to offer my help in any way I could. I received the following reply from Sue Poelvoorde…..in 2003, 5 years ago!

Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003
From: “Poelvoorde, Sue”
The bike trail is on hold at the moment due to other project priorities within the Finger Lakes Region. I still need to complete the master plan for the trail and hope to get back to the task soon. The agency will then hold public hearings before the plan is adopted. The plan adoption process usually takes several months because it involves our Albany staff, including the Commissioner. After a master plan is complete, we will need to find a funding source. At last estimate the trail will cost $5.0 million, plus. We are hopeful that the Federal Transportation dollars that have been committed to trails over the last decade will still be there and available for the Black Diamond Trail.
We do still have some trail corridor property issues and, therefore, I have not scheduled anymore work days. If and when we have activities to do, I will be in touch. I do appreciate your offer to help. And, when the time comes, a Friends group will need to be formed for the trail. Since you have experience with the Friends of Treman, you will be a good resource for me to get a group going for the Black Diamond Trail. I am the staff contact for the trail.
How are the bluebirds doing at lower Treman? I have bluebirds nesting at my house every year and I’ve grown very attached to them. They usually have two broods each year.
Thank you for your work with the bluebirds and the Friends of Treman.

I recently attended the public hearing for the Black Diamond Trail and was again pleased that the project is still being considered a possibility. Like many of the residents attending the public hearing, I was pleased with the Master Plan and disheartened that the projected start is still so far off in the future. We have raised our three children in this home at Lower Treman Park. They will never have the opportunity to enjoy this trail since they have now departed from Ithaca with their own lives. I have to wonder if the trail will really be available in my personal lifetime. This timetable is totally unacceptable. There are so many residents in Ithaca that are willing to devote their time and energy to this project. You need to make use of this very valuable resource and get this phantom trail into existence NOW!! Time is of the essence.

I again offer my help as an Ithaca resident, local Warren Real Estate agent, “Friend of Robert Treman State Park”, Town of Ithaca Conservation Board member, mother of three grown Ithaca children, outdoor enthusiast,

Susan McCutcheon

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons:

Thank you for making this document available and for the public meetings held in Ithaca on December 5 and 6, 2007.  I attended the December 5 meeting and was glad to see so many people support the building of the Black Diamond Trail.

The Cayuga Trails Club endorses the Draft Master Plan and EIS.  We especially like the fact that the trail will connect our local State Parks, as stated in the plan.  We also like the fact that the Black Diamond Trial will connect to the Finger Lakes Trail that currently goes through the Robert Treman State Park and to the Waterfront Trail in the City of Ithaca.  It will also connect to foot trails planned in the Town of Ithaca.  Connected foot trails provide wonderful opportunities for people to hike short or long distances with different destinations and different outdoor experiences.  The Black Diamond Trial will connect Taughannock Falls State Park not only to other State Parks but also to the 561 mile long Finger Lakes Trail, the longest continuous trail in New York State and one of the longest in the United States.  The Finger Lakes Trail connects to other important trail systems, including the Long Path, which connects to the famous Appalachian Trail.  The FLT through Tompkins County is also part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a non-motorized trail planned to traverse over 4,000 miles between Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota and Crown Point on Lake Champlain in New York.

The Cayuga Trails Club maintains over 70 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) in the Tompkins – Schuyler Counties area, including the section through Robert Treman.  We appreciate the partnership we have with the local State Parks and the relationships the Finger Lakes Trail Conference has with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.  The Black Diamond Trail is an important addition to our relationships.

We echo many of the other positive statements made about the Black Diamond Trail Plan and EIS.  But we especially request that as much of the trail be opened to foot traffic as soon as possible.  This may necessitate a few bridges over the larger gullies and trail clearing with some signage, but does not require the wide stabilized surface for multi-use, wide bridges, or bridges over small ditches that foot travelers can easily walk across.  This approach would allow many people to use the trail long before construction is complete for multi-purposes.

John M. Andersson, President, Cayuga Trails Club

Dear Daniel and Thomas,

I’m writing as a 32-year resident of Tompkins County and supporter of the Black Diamond Trail project, which would link the four State Parks in Tompkins County. I did attend the public forum on Wednesday evening, December 5th and did give my oral support at the meeting.

For many years, I lived near and often used the South Hill Trail. As an avid cyclist, I loved riding on that trail but found it to be entirely too short for a good biking workout. Generally I would ride its length 2-3 times at one time. I often cross country skied on that trail as well. Never in my biking or skiing experience did I meet less that a dozen or so other users of the trail.

Now I live near the Jim Shrug Trail in Dryden and find that to be a wonderful resource. That trail is used by dozens of people each day all throughout the year. However, it is too short for the biking enthusiast. The closest trail of sufficient length is the Queen Catharine Trail, to which I have to drive 45 minutes from Dryden to Watkins Glen. Because Tompkins County has an extremely active population, it deserves such a resource.

At the meeting on Wednesday, I was dismayed to hear of a 5-7 year implementation for the first phase of the plan. Having volunteered to clear sections of the trail close to Taughannock Park, I know that there are several miles of the trail already in walking and skiing condition. I would strongly urge you to open sections of the trail immediately, which will only serve to build more public interest in the project. I would also urge you to work collaboratively with other agencies in and around Tompkins County to share resources and funding to make the project possible.

Tompkins County residents have been waiting for this project for 30 years. Please do everything possible to make it a reality soon.

Andrea Dutcher

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

This email concerns the proposed Black Diamond Trail Master Plan linking the four state parks in the Ithaca and Tompkins County area.  To start, I think the proposal is a very comprehensive and complete plan, targeting the dreams and concerns of many citizen and community stakeholders in the area.  I only hope you can be aggressive in pulling these stakeholders together to shorten the timelines to complete the various phases of the plan.  The public hearings demonstrated support for this.

I have only one area of concern.  I would like clarification of the role for the unnamed road around SP34+000.  It leads from the CMC/Biggs Buildings off Dates Drive past the old steam plant down to the trail.  It is listed in one place as an emergency/maintenance access and another as a possible secondary access.  The road is now in poor condition but it does have the capability for parking near the access point.  We experience increased traffic especially in the summer but this improved trail would make this an even more attractive alternative access for no-fee/difficult to find parking access points.  Given the conditions, it would be helpful to address this before it becomes a point of risk and liability for the trail.  It’s one thing to have a fender bender on private property but another to wreck your axle in the potholes!

Marilyn Kane

To whom it may concern,

I have reviewed the proposed Black Diamond Trail in Tompkins County, and would like to express my support for this project. This is a well conceived, valuable addition to the infrastructure of the county. It will provide a safe and healthy mode of transportation via biking, skiing, and hiking between west hill and downtown Ithaca. Connecting the various state and city parks in the county, and providing a recreational hiking path appropriate for all levels of physical ability can provide a much needed tourist attraction, and is a great addition to the recent forming of the Lake Cayuga Scenic Highway and the Eric Canal National Heritage Corridor. The trail will provide safe access by bicycle and skiing to the Cayuga Nature Center, softball, soccer, swimming, ice skating, and the Hanger Theater for children (and adults) who live within easy access of the trail. It will also provide an excellent hiking trail for birders, with many varied habitats along the way. I believe that it will also become a link for people who enjoy long distance bike trips. These types of trails promote a healthier lifestyle for individuals and an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, as well as economic development in the form of increased tourism and opportunities for services and retail stores catering to hikers, bikers, and skiers.

I understand the concerns of adjacent property owners along the trail, as my own house is on a railway right-of-way and I probably face the same situation in the future, if this right-of-way is turned into a public trail. However, with proper use of fencing and vegetation screens I believe that the benefits of a developed trail that is regularly used and well maintained (instead of a un-developed but accessible path that attracts less desirable characters) will far outweigh the disadvantages.

Thank you,
Susan P. Ashdown, Ithaca, NY

Comment on Black Diamond Trail Draft Master Plan/Environmental Impact Statement

My name is Roger Hopkins. I moved to Ithaca with my wife Ruth 6 years ago. I was born in Rochester and lived there for 60 years; Ruth lived there for 30 years. I am a member and trail maintenance volunteer for the Cayuga Trails Club and a member and volunteer for the Finger Lakes Land Trust. I also publish a website – http://naturalhighs.net – which has promoted hiking and appreciation of waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region since 1997.

I offer the following comments regarding the Black Diamond Trail Draft Master Plan/Environmental Impact Statement.

1. The highest priority for this project should be to DO IT NOW! This project has been under discussion for 30 years and has enjoyed enthusiastic support from local residents, governmental units, and interested organizations for most of this time. The Draft Master Plan indicates another full year before phase 1 construction begins, 5-7 years to complete phase 1, and an indefinite time to complete phases 2 and 3. I view this glacial pace to be unacceptable

The amazing infrastructure of all three gorge state parks (Treman, Buttermilk, and Taughannock) was built in only 8 years between 1933 and 1941. And this included building a small village for the workers to live, rebuilding the gorge infrastructure that was extensively destroyed by the 1935 flood, plus quarrying stone for other state parks in the Finger Lakes. And yet this plan is saying that the State of New York will need possibly another 30 years to build a simple recreation trail on flat ground on an existing railroad grade!

I would like to know why we can’t have a phase 1 trail bed completed to connect all four endpoints before the end of 2009. This would mean clearing and grading a gravel pathway and building two or three essential bridges. The goal would be to permit through use by pedestrian and mountain bike traffic. Work could then begin immediately to build out the finish surfacing, remaining bridges, and amenities in sections while most of the remainder of the trail was in active use.

By establishing connectivity in 2 years rather than in 8 or 10 or 30 years, we can reinforce the enthusiasm that exists today and build a stronger BDT constituency that can make this overall plan a reality.

2. The State of New York should move immediately to encourage and utilize the local support that was expressed during the public hearings. Representatives of local government, private volunteer organizations, and local business all spoke in favor of this project and of their willingness to help. This is not just a few people with loppers and rakes willing to spend a few hours clearing brush. I believe there is potential for sincere and serious commitment of local effort, equipment, materials, and money to accelerate this project.

3. In addition, I have a rather specific comment regarding the actual construction of the trail. The BDT uses an old railroad right-of-way for much of the route. Necessarily, railroads were built to utilize the shortest distance between two points whenever possible. While this is fine for rail and automotive travel, it reduces the level of interest and sense of adventure for the recreational user.

I suggest that the trail design include “visual meanders” as illustrated below.

Trail Suggestion

These slight changes in direction will give a short trail horizon for the pedestrian and cyclist that is far more interesting than a continuous long perspective to a distant vanishing point. The changes in direction are so slight that they do not introduce any elements of danger or interfere with the non-automotive transportation purpose of the trail. They create the illusion of a wandering trail rather than the feel of an expressway. And leaving trailside vegetation where possible reduces the trail horizon at no cost while it increases the natural feel of the trail. Not being a design engineer, I don’t know what the angles and curvatures should be, but I assume that the general principle could be easily incorporated into the design.

Also, the width of the trail should be as narrow as possible consistent with safety constraints. I would hope that 8-10 feet would be the width – except in the areas of high traffic concentration – rather than the 10-14 feet mentioned in the plan.

Thank you for considering my comments. If you have any questions, please contact me:

Roger Hopkins, Lansing, NY

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

I am writing to support the construction of the Black Diamond Trail
in the Ithaca area for both recreation and transportation. As a
bicyclist and hiker, I look forward to using the trail. I do not
think that motorized vehicles should be allowed since they are noisy,
polluting and not carbon-neutral. The width of the trail should be
as narrow as possible to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle use.
Eight to 10 feet should be enough. A wider trail is less scenic and
unnecessary. For pedestrian and runner use, unpaved is preferable.

I am bewildered as to why the proposed time frame is so incredibly
long. Let’s get it built!

Ellen Z. Harrison,
Ithaca, NY

Daniel S. Davis, Ass’t Regional Director
Thomas Lyons, Director of Resource Management

I have surveyed the plans for the Black Diamond trail. I enthusiastically support the proposed trail — it will be a great addition to recreational and natural resource facilities in the area. Hooray!

However, I hope for a more speedy implementation. I think that waiting for several years for completion is too long. If this longer time line is necessary for some reason then at least start with the crucial facilities such as the necessary bridges.

Thanks for your support.

David Henderson
Professor, Cornell University

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

I am writing to express my support for the development of the Black Diamond Trail (BDT) in Ithaca, NY.This trail would be a boon to Ithaca in all sorts of ways and a particular treasure to hiking, biking, running and skiing enthusiasts in the Finger Lakes region and beyond, serving to draw tourists to our region, increase local business, and enhance property values.

Because of the large college student and faculty population of Ithaca and the surrounding area, it is critical to consider the ways in which the BDT would enhance campus communities. The resultant increase in local quality of life would contribute to faculty retention, attract students, and encourage exercise and fitness. The BDT would provide good work, research and community volunteer opportunities for students, perhaps including important habitat development opportunities. It would reduce the burden on local and college infrastructure by reducing single-occupant vehicle student and faculty commutes and encouraging the use of mass transit, especially with the incorporation of several nearby bus stops. The new accessibility to mass transit would also increase west shore housing options for local students and faculty.

Maybe the best reason of all for the trail is the integration of many geographically stunning parks into one single, accessible system. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” holds true.

Amy Bukowski, Ithaca, NY

Dear Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyons,

I am writing to add my comments in favor of prompt implementation of the Black Diamond Trail in Ithaca, New York. I am sure that you have heard enough about what a community asset this trail will be, how much the hikers and cross-country skiers will enjoy it, how wonderful it will be to be able to walk from Treman Park to Taughannock, etc. etc. And you know all this is true. But I have a different take on why it should be done and done quickly.

I am a grandmother in her 70s who likes to walk with my grandchildren but cannot do too much on uneven ground or long distances. So we are pretty much confined to parks, etc. which get boring very quickly. However, I could manage the Trail and since there are crossroads along the way, we could hike small distances and see animals, birds and trees in the “wild” and stop at Cayuga Nature Center too.

This Trail has been in the works for 30 years and my older grandchildren never were able to walk it with me when they were little. Please expedite the work so that I will be able to enjoy the Trail with my youngest grandchildren who are 5 and 9, hopefully before they grow up and don’t want to stroll along with me any longer.

Seriously though, I have worked on cutting brush on trail workdays, would be willing to do so again, and think it is time that this outdoor asset receives the time and attention and funding needed for a successful completion. It truly would be the jewel in the crown for the Ithaca area.

Thank you.
Joan Lawrence, Ithaca, NY

Mr. Davis,

Completing the Black Diamond Trail from Ulysses to Ithaca would provide a needed off road, muscle powered transportation pathway for county residents. Some local residents are concerned that trail users might be injured during hunting season, and others that deer will be spooked by trail users during hunts as well.I would favor banning use of the trail during hunting season if the state agrees to ban use of the highways during the same period. I figure car traffic and hunters do a lot more deer spooking than a few hikers.

In other words, let’s not close the trail during hunting season. To protect trail users we could mount weather resistant boxes with orange vests at Gorge Rd., Glenwood Rd and Cass Park; trail users who lacked their own vests could put them on upon entering and repack them upon leaving.

Jonathan A. Bernstein
Insurance Loss Control

To: Daniel Davis, Thomas Lyons
Testimony for the Black Diamond Trail Draft Master Plan

As a member of the Cayuga Trails Club, the Finger Lakes Runners Club, the Tompkins County Environmental Management Council and, as of January1, 2008 the new supervisor of the Town of Ithaca, I am delighted that the Black Diamond Trail has taken this text step toward realization. I hasten to add that none of my comments represent the official position of the Town of Ithaca.

The Draft Master Plan is detailed yet readable and clear. It outlines a magnificent addition to the resources of the entire region.My major concern is that the time line for starting and completing the trail is much longer than I – and I suspect many others – ever anticipated. My major recommendation is that the first section, from Allan H. Treman State Park to Taughannock Falls State Park, be “roughed in” in 2008 to allow at least walkers and runners to enjoy the trail. They do not need completed bridges and new trail surfaces, just the legal ability to use the trail.

The Town of Ithaca has offered some modest help from its Public Works Department in the past; perhaps the Town of Ulysses can also provide some help if the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will permit coordinated Friends of the Black Diamond Trail and town assistance on the trail.

Some more specific points:

  1. Snowmobile use (pg. I-3) has a way of inviting subsequent off-road vehicle use and is incompatible with other trail uses, notably cross-country skiing. Snowmobiles should only be permitted to cross the Black Diamond Trail and then only with extensive signage and speed controls at the intersections.
  2. I have a letter from Ray Nolan of the DEC stating that Hog Hole was designated a state-regulated wetland, so I am perplexed by the statement on page III-18 that such designation is to be investigated.
  3. On page III-31 it is stated that “The Black Diamond Trail will have Fire Protection from the Town and City of Ithaca….” The Town of Ithaca purchases fire protection from the City of Ithaca and provides no fire protection directly.
  4. The plan to pave the section connecting to the Gateway Trail (IV-4) should be revisited. I am unconvinced the amount of travel on the Gateway Trail for commuter or shopping will be sufficient to justify pavement. The state has instituted tough new storm water runoff regulations and the more pavement the faster the runoff.
  5. I wish to strongly endorse the idea of leaving a small part of the trail surface (perhaps only two feet) unpaved. Runners and horse-back riders appreciate this arrangement. This has been done on the Town of Ithaca section of trail from Game Farm Road to Pine Tree Road and has proven highly popular.
  6. I want to plead for minimum trail width and vegetation clearance along the trail from Allan Treman Park north and from Buttermilk Park south. What makes a trail especially enjoyable is the feeling of connection with nature and the protection from the sun in summer. A 16-foot cleared swath (see page V-86) eliminates much of the feeling of being off a road. Even 10-foot paths are not necessary in these sections because encounters of walkers/runners with cyclists will be few and easily managed with trail courtesy education. Narrower paths will reduce costs and provide a more attractive trail system.

The Black Diamond Trail is a wonderful, long-anticipated undertaking and I hope all will cooperate to make sections of it usable as soon as possible. Many thanks to State Parks for its diligence and skill in producing the draft master plan.

Herb Engman, Ithaca, NY

To: New York State Bureau of Parks & Historical Preservation:

I live in Norwich, N.Y. which is 67 miles from the Ithaca area and the Black Diamond proposed trail, however I am a member of The Finger Lakes Trail Conference which oversees a foot trail from Allegheny State Park to the junction of the Long Path in the central Catskills. I am also a member of The Cayuga Trails Club which sponsors 90 miles of Finger Lakes Trail on both sides of Ithaca.

The Finger Lakes Trail goes thru Robt. Treman State Park and we have a spur trail that goes to Buttermilk Falls. In view of this I am very much in favor of seeing the Black Diamond Trail built as it will connect Taughhannock State Park, Treman Marina, Cass Park, and Buttermilk Falls. The Cayuga Trails Club might be able to develop loop trails to these places.I feel certain that if this trail is built that it will attract large numbers of hikers and it will enhance the Finger Lakes Trail that traverses the area.

As I stated above the Finger Lakes Trail and Cayuga Trails Club maintain a spur trail to Buttermilk Falls which would make it possible to access the Black Diamond Trail from that point.

As a member of he Finger Lakes Trail Conference and the Cayuga Trails Club and The Triple Cities Hiking Club I am very much in favor of seeing the Black Diamond Trail built. If it wasn’t that I am 90 yrs. old I would help to build it as I was instrumental in closing six gaps in the Finger Lakes Trail years ago.

Edw. J. Sidote, Norwich, NY

Daniel S. Davis, Ass’t Regional Director
OPRHP– Finger Lakes Region

Dear Mr. Davis,I am writing you to express my strong support for the development of the Black Diamond Trail. I will be unable to attend the information workshops and public hearings on Dec 5 & 6, and therefore would like you to accept this e-mail communication in place of comments that I would have provided at the public hearing. If there is time available during the public hearing, then I would like these comments read aloud.

As a resident of Tompkins County and parent of two school age children, we are always seeking out safe off-road biking trails. We are active users of the Cayuga Waterfront trail in Ithaca and are excited by the prospect of extending our off-road bicycling on the Black Diamond Trail. We envision many regular bicycling trips between downtown Ithaca and several of the New York State parks that will be linked together with the development of the Black Diamond Trail.I believe that the development of the Black Diamond Trail is very much in the public interest of our family and many other families of young children, and residents of all ages.

I appreciate and fully support the work being done by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to develop the Black Diamond Trail.

Steven Powell, Ithaca, NY