Some residents not pleased with town’s plans for changes to easement in their neighbourhood
© Photo by Bonnie Learning/The Labradorian
Jersey McNeill (left), Cameron Colbourne, and Ryder McNeill play in the easement area located between their homes on Pottle Street in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Lori McNeill, mother and aunt to Jersey and Ryder, respectively — and Sheryl Colbourne, mother to Cameron, feel the town’s proposed changes to the easement will increase ATV and off road motorcycle traffic, creating a safety hazard, as well as other issues.
Lori McNeill couldn’t quite believe her eyes on Aug. 14.
“I was sitting in my room, when I heard a bulldozer,” said McNeill, a resident of Pottle Street, one of newer sub-divisions in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
McNeill said when she went outside, a grader was working in the easement area that runs between her house and her neighbour’s.
“I called the town manager right away, and asked what was going on,” said McNeill.
“I was told the town was planning on establishing a new walking trail in the easement area on Pottle Street.”
The easement runs approximately 200 feet, from the back of the houses on Pottle Street, to the back end of the houses on the other side of Pottle, and is approximately 40 feet wide.
While McNeill maintains she has no issue of the town trying to develop the short distance into green space, she says she does have an issue of what this could possibly mean for her enjoyment of neighbourhood if the walking trail goes ahead.
“We all know the walking trail (leading from the valley to the top of Kelland Drive) is an area where there are problems with ATV’s and off road motorcycles, as well as crime and drinking,” said McNeill.
“I am very concerned this will amount to the same thing. Not to mention the safety issue for the kids who like to play there.”
McNeill’s neighbour, Sheryl Colbourne, was also upset to hear about the town’s plans.
“The only people using this area right now are the residents living on this street, for the most part,” she said.
“I fear it will become a problem like the existing bike trail is now.”
Colbourne said she, too, has no issue with developing the area into green space, but does not want to see it designated as a walking or bike trail.
Karen Hancock lived near Pottle Street on nearby on Adams Loop for the last three years.
But prior to that, she lived for seven years adjacent to the existing bike trail on Lethbridge.
“At my previous home, I dealt with property damage, intoxicated individuals coming around, theft of property — the unsafe environment was one of the main reasons we moved.”
Now with this latest proposal, she fears property values in her current neighbourhood will suffer.
“If I had known this was the town’s plans, I never would have bought a house on Adams Loop,” she said.
The three women are also in agreement that the Town should have publicly advertised the proposed new trail, so as to give the public a chance to add their input.
“When I called the town, they agreed they should have consulted,” said McNeill.
“They have agreed to meet with several of us to hear our concerns.”
Despite the objection from some in the area, Dale Foss said he is totally in favour of the plan to develop the easement into a trail. He lives on the other side of Pottle Street, where the second half of the easement is located.
“I was one of the people who suggested they develop that area into a trail,” he said.
“It’s a complete eyesore. I can’t understand why anyone would not be in favour of it.”
Foss says with the plans to grass and lay crushed stone for a trail, it will only help enhance the area, and says from what he understands the existing posts that act as a barrier to one end of the easement would be put back up after the fact, so feels there is no real safety issue.
“I’ve lived on this street for three years, and I don’t feel a trail would increase the traffic through here anymore than it is now.
“I don’t see anything negative in this at all.”
Tony Chubbs is chair of the town’s Environmental and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
He said while the town should have provided information to the local residents about the proposed plans, he feels the project is still positive and will create a much more inviting space for residents of the area.
He also said the intended use for the area was completely taken out of context.
“It is not our intention at all to make this a continuation of the existing bike trail,” said Chubbs.
“What we are looking at is clearing the area, laying topsoil, and grassing it. This will cut down on the dust.
“Secondary to that, we were looking at laying down a path of crushed stone for a walking path, which we would see used by local residents of Pottle and Mitchell Street, and Adams Loop as a short cut between those areas.”
Chubbs also noted the existing 4 x 4 barriers in place at the end of the easement now would be replaced with something more permanent.
“The current barriers are wide enough that ATV’s and side-by-sides can get through, but we would replace those with something that would not allow for that, once the area is grassed,” he said.
Chubbs also said at the end of the day, the easement is town property and that it is virtually impossible to consult with the public on every project the town wants to tackle.
“We would never get anything done, if that was the case,” he said.
“We still see this as being a positive thing for the neighbourhood.”
The general public is invited to attend a public meeting on this issue at 5 p.m. this Thursday, Aug. 21, at the Town Office.