May 7, 2007

Volunteers beat back brush on new trail


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer     
Ric Van Donsel and Boy Scout Freideric Handelmann, 11, work at cutting back brush Saturday for a new trail that runs along a former Lehigh Valley Railway bed from the park in Lamont Circle, past Lime Hollow Center for Environment and Culture to the Tompkins County line.

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — For the close to 50 volunteers who turned out Saturday to help clear brush from the Linear Park walking trail, the crisp blue sky and the energetic chatter of birds and wildlife were a mere preview of the possibilities the trail will offer once it’s open to the public.
“I spend a lot of time at Lime Hollow in the summer for nature stuff … I figure another trail will be even better,” said Freideric Handelmann, 11, a Boy Scout in Troop 79 who was helping with the cleanup. “It’s going to be really nice … it just brings so much enjoyment.”
Volunteers arrived at approximately 8 a.m. to begin clearing overgrowth and brush from the 2.4-mile stretch of trail, which runs along a former Lehigh Valley Railway bed from the park in Lamont Circle, past the Lime Hollow Nature Center to the Tompkins County line.
The county has owned the property for the trail for more than 30 years, since it was given to the county from the railroad when that portion of the line was closed down.
By a little after 9 a.m., volunteers had already cleared about 500 meters of the most dense portion the trail, near the trail’s southernmost entrance at Lime Hollow Road, prompting amazement from Cortland County Legislator Danny Ross (R-Cortlandville) and county Planning Director Dan Dineen, both of whom have been working to make the trail a reality.
“Wow, just look at this,” Ross said as he walked the trail, which had been widened to a comfortable 10 feet across. “You could barely get through here before, it was so overgrown.”
Ryan Sullivan, an Eagle Scout candidate with Troop 79 who organized the cleanup day as part of his Eagle project, said he hoped to have the entire trail cleared by noon Saturday.
“It just needs some clearing, some minor work,” Sullivan said. “The railroad section actually extends quite a ways, but we’ve got a lot of great volunteers.”
Sullivan said he had instructed volunteers to clear the trail 10 feet across and make sure that no brush hung over the trail.
A cross country runner at Homer High School, where he is a senior, Sullivan also designed a 5-kilometer cross country course for one of the Lime Hollow trails as part of his Eagle project requirement.
“When you close your eyes and picture what an Eagle Scout is supposed to be like, Ryan’s it,” said Sullivan’s scoutmaster, Mike May, who was volunteering Saturday.
“He’s done a great job of getting people organized, bringing together a lot of people from all over to help out,” May said.
County Attorney Ric Van Donsel, who was officially on hand as a member of the Rotary Club, said he’d been interested in the development of the trail for about a year, since he first toured the area.
“To have something like this, so close to the city, is just going to be great,” Van Donsel said. “It’s nice to have a place other than sidewalks to take your dog out, just enjoy nature a little.”
John Proud, a member of the Cortlandville Town Board, said the board was very supportive of the trail.
“I think the board has been in favor of a more pedestrian-friendly community,” Proud said. “This is going to be a real asset once it’s developed and people realize it’s here.”
Ross said he hoped the trail would be able to work in concert with the Lime Hollow nature trail to provide more recreational options for county residents.
“I think the cross country teams will be interested in using it for training, hopefully people will come out and walk it,” Ross said. “I really think, when it’s all done, people will take advantage of it.”
After about five hours of work Saturday, the length of the trail had been cleared, according to Dineen.
The trail is now walkable, he said, with the only remaining work a short wooden footbridge that will at some point need to be replaced by the county.
However, anyone wishing to walk the trail can walk around the portion that requires the bridge, he said.


Man accused of rape, kidnapping found in Dryden

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — A burglary investigation on Sunday in the city led to the capture of an Onondaga County man wanted for kidnapping and rape. The man was released from state prison just a few days before he committed the violent crimes, police said.
Lt. Paul Sandy, of the city police, said this morning that around noon on Sunday police received a complaint that an unidentified white man attempted to break into a home on Delaware Avenue.
Police said the man met the description of Scott David Korber, 44, of Syracuse, who was wanted in Liverpool on charges of robbery, rape and kidnapping.
Sandy said officers from the city police, the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, SUNY Cortland University Police Department and the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department then began a search for Korber before an officer found him at around 5:45 p.m. in the McDonald’s parking lot on Route 13 in Dryden. Police said Korber was in a stolen car.
The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department took Korber into custody and charged him with first-degree rape, first-degree robbery, second-degree kidnapping, first-degree criminal sex act and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, all felonies.
Sgt. John D’Eredita, of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, said this morning that Korber robbed, abducted and raped a 28-year-old woman on April 30 in the town of Salina. He said Korber was released from state prison just days before the crime after serving more than 10 years on a robbery conviction.
D’Eredita said he does not believe Korber knew the victim prior to the attack. He said Korber held the woman for several hours at a location that D’Eredita declined to disclose, and Korber used a weapon during the crime. D’Eredita declined to release any further information this morning.
“We are still trying to put together a timeline of his travels,” he said.
The woman received medical attention and was not seriously injured, D’Eredita said.


Gallagher will run for his third mayoral term

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Mayor Tom Gallagher announced this morning that he is running for his third, two-year term as mayor.
After months of thinking it over, Gallagher, 69, of 15 Floral Ave., decided he had work to finish.
“The council and the administration have a lot of projects in the works and I would like to see those continue and get finalized,” he said.
Those projects include making more space for city hall and the fire station, and seeing the south Main Street housing rehabilitation project, south end strategic plan and the comprehensive plan for the city move ahead.
Gallagher said his biggest accomplishment as mayor has been helping revitalize downtown. Since he started as mayor the city has secured about $900,000 in grant money to put up new facades on downtown businesses and pave five downtown parking lots.
He said he was proud to see various groups work together for that common goal.
“The department heads and their staff and the Common Council, they’ve supported me so much in my position over the past few years,” he said.
Gallagher also said he is proud of the city having taken over the wastewater treatment plant from a private owner and merging the outside crews of the Water and Public Works departments.
Bill Wood, chair of the county’s Democratic Committee, said he does not know of any other Democratic candidates who have announced their candidacy for mayor.
Robert Howe, chair of the county’s Republican Committee, said no Republicans are in the race yet.
Gallagher, a Groton native, ran unopposed in the 2005 race for mayor. In 2003 he beat Republican Pete Testa by 538 votes out of almost 4,300 cast.


Dryden skate park honoring youth killed in ’05 opens

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — At 85, Katherine Ackley had more than a few years on the teenagers enjoying the new skateboard park Saturday.
But Ackley, to honor her grandson Christopher Ackley to whom the skate park was dedicated, said she wouldn’t be opposed to joining in.
“Maybe I’ll have to learn to skate myself … I’ve had a few broken bones in my day, and like Chris would say, ‘No big deal,’” Ackley said. “He was just a miracle of a human being … he always urged me to try things with him that I probably shouldn’t be doing, but we always had so much fun together.”
The Christopher W. Ackley Memorial Skateboard Park at Montgomery Park was officially opened at 1 p.m. Saturday, with hundreds of friends, family and skaters on hand to honor Christopher and enjoy the park and a beautiful spring day.
“It feels great,” said Allen Ackley, who, with his wife, Pat, has been pushing to make Christopher’s plan for a skateboard park a reality since their son’s death in a car accident in June 2005. “The kids seem to be into it, and hopefully they’ll be safer, which is what Chris wanted.”
Christopher first conceived of placing a skateboard park in Dryden because he was concerned that young people were skating in dangerous places such as parking lots, his father said.
“He sat us down one night and told us he wanted to do this — he didn’t want his friends to be skating in unsafe areas,” Allen Ackley said.