Paving the Putnam Trail

By Alison Greaney

The NYC Parks Department is proposing a $2.4 million restoration of the Putnam Nature Trail in Van Cortlandt Park. The rural escape is a 1.5-mile dirt trail in the northwest corner of the Bronx, located on the old Putnam Trail line.

As part of the restoration, the Parks Department would like to increase the width of the trail from eight feet to 15 feet and to pave 10 feet of the widened path.

The proposal is creating conflict between runners and cyclists. The majority of supporters for the proposed path are bicyclists, who say that a wider smoother trail would benefit bike riding. Also, advocates add that paving a path would make it accessible for the disabled. Most of those who oppose the plan are runners and walkers, who argue that a dirt trail is easier on joints.

Save the Putnam Trail Members, a group started to stop the paving, have put forward two resolutions to fix a trouble spot on the trail that advocates of the restoration say is a hazard and nuisance.

Meanwhile, Bronxites await the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) decision on whether to grant a wetlands permit to the Parks Department for this modification.

According to DEC permit requirements, “In-kind, in-place replacement of existing, functional structures is specifically identified as a generally compatible activity. Proposed projects that fall into this category may result in temporary construction impacts but are expected to cause few long-term changes to existing conditions at a project site.”

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