Trash on the trail
Published 4:13 pm Saturday, May 14, 2016
City says it’s working to clean up issues
City officials say they’re working on cleaning up issues with portions of the Suffolk Seaboard Coastline Trail after a citizen who lives near the trail complained at a City Council meeting earlier this month.
Erin Read and her husband, Marvin Barnes, came to the City Council meeting May 4 to report the issues. They brought large, color photographs with them to highlight the issues.
Read said passenger vehicles and four-wheelers use the unimproved section of the trail near her home with impunity, even though a sign that was recently torn down said no motorized vehicles are allowed. The sign hasn’t been replaced. Furniture, tires, empty chemical buckets and more litter parts of the trail with mounds of trash. The vehicles have created deep ruts that hold water, becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes that pester those who do try to enjoy the trail lawfully.
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“If you continue to ignore something, it’s just going to increase crime, and that’s what’s starting to happen here,” Read said in an interview this week. “I’m not a go-to-city-council kind of person. It takes a lot for me to go.”
The couple just moved into their house in a neighborhood off Nansemond Parkway, near where Route 58 crosses it, about two years ago. Read said the vehicles have been a problem almost ever since but have gotten worse recently. The dumping just started last fall.
The trail crosses their residential street next to their home. It runs southwest to Suburban Drive, west of which the abandoned railroad right-of-way still has tracks on it, and northeast to Driver, where it eventually connects with an improved portion of trail with pavement, barriers and more.
The goal eventually is to have the entire trail, from downtown Suffolk to the city line and beyond, improved. City Manager Patrick Roberts said this week that the city is having issues obtaining right-of-way to improve this section of the trail.
He acknowledged there are problems.
“It has been a problem with people accessing the trail that shouldn’t be on there,” he said.
He said the city is investigating whether it needs to place signs and barricades. The end of the trail at Suburban Drive has a gate, but it’s easy to drive around, and plenty of people do.
He also said the city is working on cleaning up the trash that’s on public property. However, the large trucks typically used for bulk refuse pickup don’t fit onto the trail, so the work is progressing slowly in smaller loads.
“We will take appropriate measures to make sure there’s no illicit activity,” he said. “The residents in that area should start to see that fairly soon.”
Read and Barnes will be pleased when that happens. They have pressed charges on ATV operators that have trespassed on their property. People on four-wheelers have come onto neighbors’ yards and spun doughnuts in the grass. They cross the residential street without even slowing down to see if a car is coming, Read said.
Read said she’d be happy with barriers, cleanup of the trash and enforcement of the laws.
“When people see the city has just let it go and done nothing, it perpetuates,” she said.