Proposed Inland Port Facility Threatens Trails at Skytop Quarry in Jamesville
It’s a well known secret that the abandoned quarry next SU’s Skytop Campus is used by the public for a number of recreational purposes. On a sunny weekend day, the trails are teeming with mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers and dog walkers. For mountain bikers, the quarry is home to some of the best singletrack in CNY.
And yes, we all know that by enjoying the trails, we are trespassing on private property. But the site has been abandoned for over 40 years, and it’s only natural for the public to be drawn to unused green spaces.
That’s all about to change.
The quarry has been designated as the site of a proposed inland port facility that will be operated by the Port of Oswego Authority.
The proposal has drawn vehement opposition from residents living in close proximity to the proposed facility. The residents are primarily concerned about air, light and noise pollution, public safety and the value of their homes. Proponents of the project point to the positive impacts the project will have on the local economy.
The Port of Oswego Authority has begun the process of evaluating the environmental impact of the project. One of the factors that the Authority is required to study is the project’s impact on “public recreation.”
The initial application submitted by the Authority to the NYS DEC, specifically states that the site is NOT used for public recreation. We all know that this is not true, but it’s doubtful that the Authority (and their out-of-town consultants/engineers) are aware that the site is a recreational gem for the CNY outdoor community.
But there’s some good news: The Authority is soliciting public comments as a part of the environmental impact study. They won’t know that the site is used for recreation unless we tell them.
Here’s some more good news: the project appears to be primarily sited along the railroad line along I-481, and inside the walls of the quarry itself. According to the initial application, the “majority of barriers (e.g. landform, trees) [will] remain, [there will only be] , minor scrub-shrub removal along the south side of the site.” Out of 104.8 acres of existing forested area, only 15 acres will be removed.
As we all know, the trail network exists almost exclusively in the forested areas around the perimeter of the quarry.
There are plenty of valid reasons to both oppose and support the project. But if the project is built, we need to demand that the Authority allow the public access to the existing trail network.
The first step is to submit a public comment. Email the Port of Oswego Authority at Inlandport@portoswego.com, or write a letter to Zella Kirincich, 1 East Second Street, Oswego NY 13126.
An email takes only a minute. The deadline for submitting your public comment is 10/24/15.