Allen continues Homestead Estates trail discussion
At the Sept. 22, 2020, meeting, Allen Township Board of Supervisors listened as residents of a local community voiced grievances about a pedestrian trail that runs right through their Homestead Estates neighborhood. The debate about whether to close the trail grew heated, and the board adjourned, tabling the discussion for a future meeting.
Township Manager Ilene Eckhart sent Homestead Estates residents a questionnaire to determine how best to handle the situation. She summarized the results for the board at the Jan. 26 meeting.
The questionnaire results showed many residents utilize the path on a daily basis. The majority of residents just use the trail side, but some also use the loop, making a circuitous route. Most residents noted a positive experience for use of the trail.
Other feedback consisted of concern for children’s safety, litter issues and the trail providing an access point for crime.
Residents suggested advising property owners whose land joins the trail to install fences and private property signage. They also advised the township to install signage noting the trail is for Homestead Estates residents only and to provide better direction to the main trail, which is intended for public use.
If the board voted to make the trail private, residents would be responsible for trail upkeep and maintenance.
Without a unanimous consensus, the board decided it was in everybody’s best interest to leave the trail as it is currently. Board members stated they don’t want to get involved in an issue with which the community is more familiar than they are.
One disgruntled resident spoke up regarding maintenance responsibilities and liability issues.
Some of the trees along the trail are uprooting, according to this Homestead Estates resident. He said the roots have caused stress cracks on the path, which may not be a major issue right now but could be in the future.
One board member asked the resident to clarify whether the tree was on his property, noting that if it was, it would be his responsibility. The resident seemed concerned that while it is his property, the board can still tell him what to do with it.
He also brought up the issue of an icy path during winter storms. Recently, he saw a couple with a child walking on ice on the part of the path that overlaps his property, he claimed. He questioned if he would be held legally accountable if someone were to slip and fall.
The board said these issues were a topic for another discussion. Since they did not have the Homestead Estates easement, nor the deed to his property regarding property lines, in front of them, it was difficult to give him an answer.
The resident then proposed putting up a gate to make the trail private. The board reminded him that because the residents’ responses had not been unanimously in favor of making the trail private, the board had decided not to change the trail.
Until 100 percent of the development residents can come to a unanimous consensus, the path will remain as it is now, Chairman Dale Hassler said.
“One hundred percent of the Homestead Estate residents are not gonna go up against a lawsuit if somebody falls on the trail because it’s not on everybody’s property, and that’s my point,” the resident said. “I think a better solution to this problem needs to be addressed.”
The board thanked the resident for his input. For now, the situation remains as is.