Saturday, June 07, 2008

Local Opposition Threatens Berks Regional Trail

The NIMBYs Are Coming! The NIMBYs Are Coming!

A group calling itself the People For Pennsylvania's Future (not to be confused with the environmental group PENNFuture) is running a smear campaign to try to stop the creation of the Hay Creek Trail.
http://www.readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=94609

Additionally nearly 1000 residents of Caernarvon Township signed a petition in opposition of the trail.

We've heard this before, neighbors adjacent to a trail rise up in opposition to a regional trail project. Rhetoric reaches the point of hysteria. Wash rinse Repeat.

One tactic that such groups commonly use is to tie the trail to some sort of burden on the community. PFPC spokesman Jerry Thacker claims that want that the group wants "lower the tax burden for everyone by improper use of eminent domain".

That's an odd solution towards Berks County tax reduction, given that 80% of the trail would be paid for in federal transportation dollars. Additionally only tiny percentage of federal transportation dollars that is spent on right of way acquisition for trails, a fraction of one percent.

Odder still is that we "shouldn't be spending money on trails in the era of $4 gas...".

The truth is that none of those arguments have ever held sway, the health, economic, environmental and transportation benefits of trails are bulletproof. Trails encourage physical activity, have a positive effect on housing values and tourism. And yes they can encourage people to complete trips by bicycling or walking, trips that would otherwise have been done in vehicles that consume carbon emitting, $4 a gallon gas.

One thing is for sure, if the trail loving public does not rise up to support the Hay Creek Trail it will not be built. Leaving the land open to developers and further reducing the availability of transportation choices such as bicycling in Southern Berks County.


View Larger Map

Proposed alignment of the Hay Creek Trail showing its connection to the Thun/Schuylkill River Trails

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of whiners that oppose this trail. Your arguments are based on fallacies. Who would oppose such a worthwhile project? Your time would be better spent fighting the expansion of the various dumps in the area. How ironic that when Conestoga Landfill proposed an expansion, hardly anyone showed up to protest.

Matt in Berks said...

From following this in the local paper, I think that there is some genuine NIMBY here from people who at least are literally talking about their back yards. I beleive many of those fears could be allayed by an examination of the positive impact of nearby trails.

However, most of the noise over the trail is coming from the ridiculous ads being run by PPF, and it is not at all clear what their real motivation is. It appears to me that they are nothing like a grass roots organization, and this campaign is probably motivated by some unmentioned but signifigant financial interest, or possibly just conservative demagoguery.