When the Town of Berlin agreed to apply for a Trails Grant with the Berlin Land Trust to acquire a parcel of land on the Janota Farm in Kensington it seemed like a no-brainer.
That was until the residents on Heritage Drive and Chippens Hill Drive found out that a walking trail along their property lines was planned.
Tuesday night, some of those residents came out to let the Town Council know they are not in favor of the trail. They also attended an informational meeting Thursday night at the Community Center to hear from all parties involved.
Economic Development Director Jim Mahoney explained that the town could only purchase the parcel of land with an available Trails Grant. That grant is only available if the town followed through with a trail on the property. The town would otherwise not have the money to buy the parcel.
"This is a parcel of 21 acres on the Janota Farm, which is wooded and has great wildlife, trees and rock formations and things you want to reserve," Berlin Land Trust President Dennis Kern said. "It has evolved into a parcel with a trail situation because that's where the money is going to come from, a Trails Grant. The Land Trust supports the concept of acquiring the land, the means to acquire the land and the proposed trail but it sounds like from hearing from the neighbors that the trail should be moved to another spot on the property.
"The neighbors should not feel like this is a bad thing. The Land Trust feels this is a very important piece of space to be preserved but it feels like the trail should be moved to the other side of the Janota Farm."
Residents said they were worried for a number of reasons.
"We moved here to Berlin because we liked the town and the schools and we loved the fact the kids could play on the street, which is a dead end, and we didn't have to worry about them," said Sarah Meyers, who lives on Chippens Hill Drive. "Having a trail on our property lines would take away the security of the neighborhood. I worry about people walking through our yards. There could be loose dogs running through the yards. In the dark the people walking would be able to see right into our homes.
"I worry about late night visitors and where they will park and if they will leave litter in the cul de sac. With the proposed parking lot so far away I think they will park on the streets. There are no sidewalks on either roads and no room for parking. I don't mind preserving the land but would not support the nature trail."
Joe Viera said he has seen bobcats and turtles as well as eagles and hawks on the breathtakingly beautiful piece of land.
"There is a right of way on my property so there is nothing I can do when people use it but I would not want more traffic of people jumping the curb to get to the trail," Viera said. "It is a treasure back there. We all went to the Town Hall when we got our assessments and thought they were too high but the Town told us they were high because we had a great reserve behind our homes. I didn't mind it and I understand but a trail would take away from the beauty back there."
Joe Inturri moved from Chamberlain Highway to Heritage Drive because of the amount of traffic and speed of the vehicles going by his house. The former police officer calls himelf the "gatekeeper" of the neighborhood.
"The kids and I know know what cars belong in the neighborhood and what ones don't," Inturri said. "I worry about all kinds of security issues in the neighborhood. I worry about pedophiles and people that don't belong in our neighborhood. I am in favor of preserving the land but hope the trail doesn't go in there."