Pricey Presley detour

I am writing in response to Al Zappa's letter in your November 18 issue ["No WMDs behind the razor wire"]. Zappa suggests relocating part of the Rivanna Trail to the East side of the river, thus bypassing the razor-wire fence, as a "simple solution" to protect Shirley Presley's property rights.

This would require building a bridge across the Rivanna north of her property. While this is a very good idea, it does not qualify as simple and could be very expensive.

The property rights issues involved are not as clear-cut as implied by the letter. According to federal law, all navigable rivers are public property, up to the "ordinary high water mark," and are held in trust for the public by the state. This means, among other things, that riverfront property owners cannot restrict river navigation.

Property lines that go to the middle of a river are intended primarily to allow settlement of disputes between landowners on opposite sides of the river, not those between public and private interests.

Given the tremendous support the Rivanna Trail enjoys in our community, I have little doubt that the City can find a solution that complies with property law and does not infringe on the property rights of either riverfront property owners or the public.

In the meantime, we are all free to enjoy this superb stretch of our Rivanna River in a non-motorized boat.

Norman Beil