Section of cobblestone street-tree base, Richmond Terrace, St. George, Staten Island
NOT, I ADMIT, WHAT I WAS EXPECTING
First, Staten Island Greenbelt Administrator Adena Long spoke about the park's need to accommodate alternative forms of transportation. She actually used those words. Then Long described plans to provide a path for walkers and cyclists.
Long addressed the November 1 semiannual meeting of Protectors of Pine Oak Woods, Staten Island's largest environmental organization. I was there not only as a Protectors member, but to make my case for safe access to the Greenbelt for walkers and cyclists, which I assumed meant installing sidewalks. I had expected opposition to this idea. Maybe even confrontation. And then, before I could open my mouth, Adena Long made it clear the pedestrian and bicycle path I planned to fight for was already in the works. Not a discouraging word was heard from the audience, many of whom had fought long and hard to create the Greenbelt decades ago and are determined not only to protect it, but expand it.
Long said the path will be created as part of a plan to defend the Greenbelt at its perimeter, which is the usual point of entry for invasive weeds and vines that can destroy very quickly the diversity and balance of plant life within the park. This perimeter 'strip' won't be just a poured concrete walk along the edge of a roadway. It will be designed, landscaped and maintained--with the bicycle and walking path included as part of the design.
This project will take years to complete, of course. What matters more, I think, is that it's being done at all. And that it just may represent a change in consciousness at the city's largest park. A change that begins to acknowledge pedestrians and bicyclists as co-equal users--with motorized vehicles--of public streets and roads.