More Trail troubles

LETTER- More Trail troubles

Published July 25, 2002, in issue #25 of the Hook

Regarding your article "Trail Nix" [July 4, 2002] (, my home is on property that allows public access for the Rivanna River Greenbelt Trail. In fact, the entire stretch of the Greenbelt from Riverview to Free Bridge is on private land. The City of Charlottesville holds easements for the purpose of a public walking path. As a former member of City Council, I supported constructing the Greenbelt. I also support the Rivanna Trails Foundation (RTF) and applaud its success in creating public paths along the city waterways.

That being said, I am sympathetic to Shirley Presley. I can understand her consternation at her property becoming a public path without her knowledge and at the verbal abuse she endured when she blocked access to her land.

I've had unpleasant experiences with persons acting as though they are entitled to do whatever they want on property open to the public. When the Greenbelt opened, many walkers (and their dogs) chose an uphill path from the Rivanna River to my home.

Motorcyclists also discovered our path: on several evenings, I awoke to bright lights and zooming motors, as cycles whizzed through my yard and a nearby cemetery.

At the height of the publicity of the Greenbelt as a "Dog Park," I was regularly accosted by dogs on my own property. I thought I was polite in my requests (pre-leash law) that owners keep their dogs under voice control. Yet on several occasions I was subjected to harangues and lectures. One woman yelled, "Well, next time I'll bring my pit bull. Have a nice day." A young man said, "This is a dog park, and you should get used to dogs jumping on you." Even though I was on my own property, I stopped saying anything to anyone.

Then there is the issue of debris. People leave beer bottles and soft drink cans on the sandy beach on my neighbor's land even though a city trash can is nearby. My neighbor and I pick up the trash when we walk, and the Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association does its part once a year. But we need a public relations campaign for litter control along our public pathways and parks.

Public access to the river and the trails is a wonderful thing, but public access should be accompanied by individual responsibility.

Kay Slaughter