Help Keep Webster Pond/Rand Tract Natural

Help Keep Webster Pond/Rand Tract Natural

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chad norton started this petition to Valley Area

Dear City Officials, Valley Residents and Pond Supporters,
My Name is Chad Norton, Vice President of the Anglers Association at Webster Pond. This letter is in response to the Rand Tract/Webster Pond discussion meeting held on June 15th to share future ideas for the Rand Tract. If you are not familiar with Rand Tract, here is a brief description before reading my vision. Your support would be greatly appreciated

Facebook post from last year

I am pleased to announce I wrote another successful grant to extend the existing Veterans Memorial Trail from the South end of the pond to the Rand Tract with a single gated walkway path, giving the visitors the opportunity to hike the Rand Tract from the trail, or to enter the pond trail from the Rand Tract. This has been a hope and dream of many Valley TNT members, residents, and Visitors from all around for some time now. The pathway would be made of stone dust to match the existing path, and would be maintained by our volunteers for access. The gate will be self closing and latching to ensure that no waterfowl can escape. We think that the expansion will encourage people to use the available facilities for health and fitness, as well as the aesthetics of the views and photo opportunities, and the increase in traffic will be good for the Pond overall. Thanks to the Valley TNT group for funding the project. It will be completed this spring by the amazing crew of ECK in Nedrow. I look forward to working with the neighborhood groups to keep it naturally beautiful. Just a reminder dogs are allowed on the Rand Tract but NOT at the pond. Think spring, I hope everyone enjoys this new opportunity!

Such meetings are a good means for discussing ways to improve the visitor experience and maintain this unique and prized natural resource, the historic site of the home of the first non-native settler in the area, Ephraim Webster.

First, thank you for including us in this conversation and for allowing us to install the Rand Tract access point at the south end of Webster Pond. You made a dream of mine come true as I can now travel most of the Rand Tract in my wheelchair.

The consensus from our last meeting was to leave the property in its current state and we suggest only making improvements that do not disrupt the landscape and detract from beauty of the area.

These include:

• Refrain from changing the trail format or surface in any way, thus leaving the trail in its natural state.
• Limiting trail maintenance to a minimum, such as cutting back overgrowth, removing poisonous or invasive plants and addressing any safety concerns.
• Retaining current rules for the trails. We don’t believe they should be changed as the trail has existed for many years with no incidents or injuries being reported under the current limited restrictions.
� We understand, of course, that certain legal/liability issues might necessitate alteration to this policy.
� Likewise, there might be other developing conditions that might reveal a need for certain modifications of current policy.
• Maintaining the existing system for “policing” maintaining and monitoring the trails until dark year around with volunteers and staff.

In terms of utilization of the area:

We should allow:
• Bicycles with no motors
• Leashed dogs on Rand Tract only
• GPS Geocaching
• Snow shoeing
• Coordination with local schools and educational agencies
regarding educational opportunities

We should specifically prohibit:
• Motorized vehicles
• Weapons of any kind
• Unleashed dogs
• Smoking/fires
• Camping
• Any other activities not in accordance with local laws

Webster Pond volunteers continue to be willing to perform routine maintenance and cleanup.

In the past, students from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University have provided valuable assistance in clearing and maintaining trails and we plan to continue our relationship with ESF.

To enhance community support of the Webster Pond/Rand Tract area, I recommend we delineate the trails we have, and ask community groups and business in the area for sponsorship support, like an “Adopt a Trail” program.

• Each sponsoring group would be asked to monitor and maintain their adopted trail as often as possible.
• Their participation would be recognized in the trail’s name and appropriate signage recognizing the group’s participation and contribution to the Webster Pond/Rand Tract site.
• Each group would be encouraged to make an annual donation in support of signage and appropriate maintenance expenses.

We have developed several ideas for general improvements that will enhance the safety, educational experience, and overall enjoyment of the area, including, but not limited to:

• Trail markers and other appropriate signage showing directions, trail length and degree of difficulty and distance to exits or other trails
• Visitor sign-in and comment logs (guestbooks) to record usage and obtain feedback and suggestions regarding the Webster/Rand Tract site
• Tree and plant identification markers
• Dog waste stations at entrance/exit
• Printable maps (downloadable from the website)
• Trash cans at the trail entrance/exit
• Guided hikes
• Stationary trail map at entrances
• Addition of limited seats/benches for resting and relaxing.
� Note: Though Commissioner LaFave was not in favor of the idea last year. We have modified our thinking on the idea.
� We believe that some type of limited seating would enhance the trail experience for visitors by allowing them an opportunity to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
� Benches could be created (at minimal expense) from fallen trees along the trail and would blend in perfectly with the environment.
• Creation of a “Tool Lending Closet” (see attached description) in conjunction with the Syracuse Rotary Club to facilitate maintenance and improvements at our site as well as others throughout the city.

We feel it is important to retain the natural look and purpose of the Rand Tract and ensure that any improvements are in character with the natural environment.

Naturally, there are certain cost considerations involved with any improvements, but considering the desire to maintain the natural look of the area, costly use of construction equipment, labor and materials would be greatly reduced. Cooperative and innovative use of funds would maximize results while minimizing cost.

Thank you all for your time and attention and for your consideration of our proposals, concerns, and suggestions regarding this “hidden gem” of the city of Syracuse.

Please note that the signatures attached support Webster Pond’s vision for the Rand Tract.

Should you have any questions, comments, or concerns about our ideas please contact me.


Chad Norton
Vice President Angler’s Association of Onondaga



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