Dobbs Ferry, New York, April 2008.
The other day at breakfast while expounding on the virtues of the new greenway linking Lefurgy and Washington Avenues, my son asked me a most innocent question, “Dad, what exactly is a greenway?”
“Well, son, greenways are corridors linking two green spaces like the Juhring Estate and the Croton Aqueduct.”
“But aren’t you really talking about the cart path next to the 7th fairway of the Ardsley Country Club.”
“Exactly son, it turns out that the heirs to the Nagle estate want to turn it into a driveway for a new subdivision.”
“Dad, I know the old joke, why do you drive on a parkway and park in a driveway, but how can a greenway next to a fairway be a driveway.”
“Therein, my son, lies the rub. The Board of Trustees has stumbled onto an intricate web of property rights, real and imagined.”
To the astonishment of the more recent residents of Cricket Lane, that famous dirt road and center of political intrigue in Dobbs Ferry, it turns out that the cart path next to the 7th fairway of the Ardsley Country Club is built on Village property. Running between the ACC and the Nagle estate is a demapped road, Belden Avenue. Now, this information was no surprise to Fred Broda, Village Trustee, and lifelong resident of Cricket Lane; nor for that matter to all-knowing Google Maps that shows it clearly on the Hybrid view.
What Fred objected to was a request by the ACC and the Nagle estate for reciprocal easements to use the demapped road, read newly discovered greenway, as a shared cart path/driveway. In return for this easement, the parties were offering the humongous sum of $1. Further complicating the matter was the involvement of Kevin Plunkett, Village Attorney and member of the ACC, who had brokered the deal. Mr. Plunkett had to ultimately recuse himself, due to this possible conflict of interest.
Things got really interesting when the lawyer for the Nagle estate viciously attacked Mr. Broda in a recent meeting of the Board of Trustees. He accused Mr. Broda of violating the Village ethics code by refusing to recuse himself from voting on the easement request. Mr. Broda’s alleged crime was the fact that he had questioned the desirability of granting the easement, while still a private citizen in a public hearing.
Now the Board of Trustees has a real hot potato on its hands. The local community, now that it is aware that this is Village property, wants to reclaim it as a path so that kids going to school and seniors getting exercise don’t have to walk in the street anymore. This will require clearly marking the trail and somehow working out a way for the golfers to keep hitting their slices without injuring the hikers and damaging the cars from the subdivision. In addition, the privet hedge planted by the ACC on Washington Avenue blocking egress to the greenway will have to be removed.
Finally, the ‘rules of engagement’ will need to be worked out between the golf course maintenance crews, golf carts, automobiles, delivery trucks, garbage pickup, emergency vehicles and hapless pedestrians. Clearly the pedestrian will have the right of way, but tell that to a teenager racing to pick up his date on a dark night from a new home in the subdivision. [Greenways, by definition, cannot include street lights.]
Life was so much simpler before the environmental movement and greenways when SUV’s and golfers took precedent over pedestrians.