As more than 300 residents have signed an online petition opposing the Putnam Trailway ads, the County Legislature will vote Tuesday night on a resolution that recommends approval of an agreement to allow the sale of outdoor advertising by a for-profit company on the Putnam Trailway.
Two days before the vote, the agreement has yet to be made public. And legislators say there will be no opportunity for community input on the deal, which will put up for auction this prized public asset – the view-shed of the Putnam Trailway – by a politically connected company.
In Putnam, the public can comment at committee meetings. But the legislature’s Audit and Administration Committee unanimously passed the resolution on Wednesday, even though the agreement mentioned in the resolution has yet to come before the panel. Approving the resolution – before seeing the agreement they were supporting – were Legislators Joe Castellano, R-Southeast, Barbara Scuccimarra, R-Philipstown, and Carl Albano, R-Carmel.
Castellano did not return phone messages Sunday.
It’s all part of the backroom deal that County Executive MaryEllen Odell has masterminded for Bikepath Country President Ivan Bellotto, the Camp Kiwi owner who touted his political fundraising abilities in his proposal to the county, and Richie O’Keefe, the former Carmel Town Councilman who’s part of the powerful Republican family in Putnam County. His sister, Suzi McDonough, sits on the Carmel Town Board and is chief of staff of state Sen. Greg Ball, Another O’Keefe sister was married to Carmel Town Supervisor Ken Schmidt.
O’Keefe and Bellotto are among nine partners in Bikepath Country, which has ambitions to sell outdoor advertising on trailways across the nation.
Bikepath Country was the only respondent to the county’s Request for Proposals. Westchester County rejected the plan earlier this month, after users of the North and South County trailways said they didn’t want to see ads on the path through the woods.
According to Legislator Dini LoBue, R-Mahopac, at Tuesday’s meeting, public comment will only be allowed after the panel votes. She wants to table the resolution so the public and legislators can have time to review it.
“What’s the hurry?” she said.
While Odell wants a quick vote, residents over the past two days have signed an online petition, addressed to Odell, at Change.org. It was launched Friday by Deborah Ramsey, a Croton-on-Hudson cyclist, and past president of the Westchester Cycle Club, who rides often in Putnam County. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the board of the Westchester Cycle Club.)
Ramsey, who learned about the issue through Tax Watch, rode her bike to speak up at the Legislature’s Physical Services Committee meeting earlier this month.
While the Legislature is prepared to vote on the resolution without public input, here are comments left by Westchester and Putnam residents on the Change.org petition. See if you find one of your neighbors speaking out.
Kenneth Mast, MAHOPAC, NY
Don’t commercialize the peaceful trailway. Advertizements are visual litter.
- David Eppinger, CARMEL, NY
The trailway should be a simple, open environment where we can have a break from our overcrowded roadways and constant bombarding of advertising.
This is a natural park.
It should maintain it’s peace with nature
- Mark Linehan, YORKTOWN, NY
Our parks — including the Putnam County Trailway — are intended to help us enjoy the outdoors and get away from the commercialism of our day-to-day. We don’t permit advertisements on our roads or in our parks, and they don’t belong on the Trailway.
Don’t make Putnam County known as the county that embraces advertising on bicycle paths.
Irene Studwell, WHITE PLAINS, NY
The trail way provides a beautiful and serene respite from the roads. Why destroy that for a doubtful financial return?
- Janet Cassidy, PATTERSON, NY
- We live with too much visual pollution, bombarded with images and noise. The Trailway gives us a respite from that, a respite that is important for mental health.
- Chris Controneo, CARMEL, NY
The Putnam Trailway is meant to be an escape from the corporate/consumer world.
- Suzanna Courney, MAHOPAC, NY
we do not want our Gods natural beauty to be defaced by man and there obsession to destroy everything they touch.Enough is Enough.
- Suzanna Courney, MAHOPAC, NY
I am signing because I want to preserve the natural landscape of our town…I run all the time to escape the noise and enjoy the beauty of nature .I DO NOT WANT SIGNS to cover what we want to enjoy most and that’s Gods nature.
- Thomas Poppe, WHITE PLAINS, NY
By its very nature a bike trailway is designed to provide a balance to the incessant onslaught of media spam in everyday life. To clutter it with ads/spam is yet another symbol for the real intentions of the BigBrotherhood: “Keep off balance so that you do not see what is behind the stage props”. In other words: Ms. Odell, don’t do it.
- Bob Bak, PATTERSON, NY
Commercialization of nature is not needed. I use the bike path to escape from the stress of everyday life and enjoy nature.Signs would ruin it.
- Stuart Levin, MAHOPAC, NY
The Trailway is one of the sacred places of our community. Let it forever not be defiled.
- Saskia Shakin, MAHOPAC, NY
I am here to enjoy nature, not advertisements. They would be most intrusive on our trails. Is there no place where nature can prevail?
- Diane Travis, GARRISON, NY
Please keep advertisements off the beautiful Putnam County Trailway. We all need a little peace from this commercialism and the Trailway is one of the ways to get that peace.
- Victor Tiship PUTNAM VALLEY, NY
The commercialization of public open spaces is visual pollution and not acceptable. Expenses and budgets must be limited and served by being smarter, not by government selling-out to commercial special or connected interests – we see far too much of that corruption already. Enough!
- ken Harper, PATTERSON, NY
The whole proposal is fishy, the numbers don’t add up and the politicos are scrambling to make it happen – so it must be a bad idea.
- C.E. Smith, CARMEL, NY
This is important to me because I appreciate the raw beauty of this historic trailway. If I want to see advertising – and to learn about local merchants – I know how to do this. I choose to use this bikepath because it is a peaceful, beautiful retreat. Please help to keep it this way.
- Arnold Morgan, PATTERSON, NY
The bike trail is like a park… it is a place to get away from all the commercialism and destress. It’s a place to commune with nature. God, will there be anyplace left?
Marian Leonard, MAHOPAC, NY
When we moved here in 1980 it was the rural feel that attracted us. Route 6 has become an overcrowded commercialized nightmare and the Putnam Trailway is one of the few oasis’s for residents that retains the feel of getting away from it all. Please do not allow commercial signs along the Trailway.
- JOseph Lambert, BREWSTER, NY
advertising is unnecessary, trying to use safety as the issue to push advertisement signs on our trails is so transparent. Have bike patrollers ride the rails, like the HELP trucks on 684
- BillDoll, CARMELTRAILCARMEL, NY
If people are paying attention to advertisement then their not paying attention to children playing on the trail.
- Marie Davis-Williams, CARMEL, NY
Judging by the type of development that passes muster in this county I don’t trust that enough forward thinking or care will be taken with displays of commercial signage on the bike path.
- Tom Maxson, KENT, NY
I don’t believe the trailway should be commercialized. I believe there are other ways of raising funds for its maintenance.
- Wayne Pearson, BREWSTER, NY
We do not have to commercialize everything. Some things are best left as they are. ENOUGH!
- Mario Riccobon CARMEL, NY
While I understand the county’s need for generating revenue, it should not come at the cost of destroying more of the bucolic flavor and rural sensibility that brought most of us to Putnam County in the first place. If we’re having budget problems, then perhaps the savings should come from reducing the amount of pensionable government jobs or higher taxes/reduced pensions on double-dipping politicians.
- Howard Killik, MAHOPAC, NY
We have strict rules about lawn signs and ads on houses to protect the quality of life. Why would public property be exempt from restrictions on commercialism?
- Kathleen and Jan Hoekstra, PUTNAM VALLEY, NY
There is increasingly less and less pristine in Putnam County. Why tarnish a refuge like this where people can refresh their bodies and spirits.
- John Buonorobo, BREWSTER, NY
Leave nature alone.. let us walk the path in peace, leave the outside world to the subways.
- Ray Mainero, CARMEL, NY
because I use this trail on a regular bases with my grandchildren and I don’t want its natural beauty destroyed.
- Wanda Law, BREWSTER, NY
Nepotism and cronism is a poor practice most often yielding bad results. God given talent, skills and abilities in combination with a right heart attitude and a good work ethic best qualifies one for any task; having a relationship with such should only be taken into consideration to access character.
- Lawrence Rubin, BREWSTER, NY
Please follow Westchester Counties lead in not entering into a contract with a company which misrepresents itself. There are too many open questions about this contract and deal. Please mile markers could be spray painted on the path surface instead. Much less intrusive to the eye.
- [riscilla Keresey, LAKE PEEKSKILL, NY
No ads in nature, please! I go on the trails to get away from ads!
- Joni Mercado, PUTNAM VALLEY, NY
Keep our valley pristine. Back paths filled with commercial signs detract from nature. They don’t belong here.
- Sue Willis GARRISON, NY
PLEASE keep the Trailway unspoiled
- George L Bickel III LINCOLNDALE, NY
I am a Mahopac resident, despite my Lincolndale PO Box. I regularly use the trail for the purpose of escaping the unremitting commercialization that pervades every aspect of American life, even here in Putnam. I urge you not to add commercials to the trailway, as it will diminish the quality of the experience for trail users.
- Michael S. Johnson CARMEL, NY
I ride my bike on the trail and enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of nature as I ride. Please do not ruin this with commercial signs!
- Barbara Hobins, COLD SPRING, NY
Have SOMEplace that is no inundated with crap. Example: the “scenic” Route 9 through Putnam is awash with billboards.
- Lillian rosengarden COLD SPRING, NY
Are you kidding? Let us have a piece of nature without disgusting ads we do not want to see.
- Kim Papa BREWSTER, NY
We do not need sign pollution
- Jean Riccobon, CARMEL, NY
The path is beautiful and relaxing. Don’t spoil it. It does not need sponsored trail info. There is already enough info along the way.
- Lisette Depew-Kubie BREWSTER, NY
I USE THE TRAIL TO ESCAPE FROM THE WORLD — THE LAST THING I WANT TO SEE ARE SIGNS AND ADVERTISEMENTS ASSAULTING THE VIEWS!
- John Crockett, CARMEL, NY
keep the trailway NON-commercial, non-cluttered. NO propaganda, NO advertising
- Patricia Miller MAHOPAC, NY
The bikepath is one of the best projects that this county has ever done in my 30 years living in Mahopac. There is enough advertising on TV and radio and I’m sick of the intrusion. Path signs are also prone to grafiti and will take away from the beauty of the path. Please do NOT allow another form of advertising along this beautiful section of country. I thought Putnam was “Where the Country Begins”
- C. Dunbabin, CARMEL, NY
The bike path is a special recreational place that has been created for residents of this county. I use it frequently and would hate to see it commercialized.
Romda Kahn MAHOPAC, NY
This will spoil a peaceful and bucolic trail.
- Caroline McCormick, Carmel, , NY
Let’s keep Putnam beautiful. Advertisement on the bike path is the most ridiculous thing. Let’s keep the peaceful surroundings tranquil.
- Charles Koenig, BREWSTER, NY
Disgraceful !!! Ms Odell – you have certainly lost my vote !!!
Ray Herbst, MAHOPAC, NY
I bike on this trail several times a week and I don’t want such a beautiful experience ruined by advertising. I live and VOTE in Carmel!
- Natasha Didonato, CARMEL, NY
I use it all the time its my sanctuary. If I want ads I will watch TV, or read a Newspaper, or turn on my Computer!!!.
- Denise Blair, CARMEL, NY
Keep our trail way peaceful and untouched. We go there to escape the artificial aspects of our lives and to embrace & enjoy nature.
- Phyllis Hoenig MAHOPAC, NY
We have restricted the use of signs of any kind on our roads in Mahopac. Why would I want to be offended by them in a place where I go to enjoy the beauties of nature?
- Elaine jacobs, MAHOPAC, NY
Cheap commercialism will only serve to to show that the people of Putnam County have no integrity, The slight savings per household is not worth it. I do not trust either the method of deciding who will be in charge or the people in charge.
- Margaret Rizzuto, CARMEL, NY
Signs along the bike path will detract from the beauty and nature. Why is Putnam the only county willing tomsellmsigns on the bike path? Not cool.
- Kathleen Delamere, MAHOPAC, NY
This portion of the Bike Trail from Mahopac to Brewster Is the most beautiful section on the entire length of the Bike Trail, to NYC.
arches of tall, stately trees and escarpments of glacial dumps creating an atmosphere akin to a cathedral. Banks of umbrella like, May Flowers, rare indeed, and other NYS Native Protected Wildflowers such as trillium and Jack-in-the-Pulpet. A bridge over the most pristine rainbow trout stream in the North East, spanning generations and centuries, has been replaced no less than 4 times. Past the Historic Belden House and suddenly Lake Glenida appears framed by the Hamlet of Carmel, our County Seat, the spire of the Baptist Church completing the perfect New England snapshot. Why would you want to trash it adds for Tanning Oil and Viagra?
I use the bike trail several times a week. It is a little bit of heaven. Please leave it pristine, you will not regret it.
- Marsha Waldman, MAHOPAC, NY
Do NOT pave paradise and put up a parking lot! We enjoy the natural beauty and calm, friendly atmosphere of the path and do not want it turned into an advertisement that primarily benefits one shifty and greedy businessman.
- Suzanne Walsh, MAHOPAC, NY
I’d like to enjoy nature and don’t want to be distracted by advertisements.
- Julia Lally, MAHOPAC, NY
If I want advertising, I’ll watch TV. Let’s keep our trailway clean.
- Vanessa Longo, CARMEL, NY
Walking or biking the Trailway is my way to enjoy nature, take time to myself (or with family) and to “get away from it all.” I feel advertisements on the trail will spoil this. We’re already bombarded by advertising everywhere. Not the trail, too.
- Chris Starace, OSSINING, NY
I rid on the path a lot. Would anyone consider putting signs like these on hiking paths in the woods- say on the Applachian Trail or in Harriman State Park!!
- Lisa Baker, STAMFORD, CT
I ride on the bike path and especially treasure the section in Putnam County, which is so quiet and beautiful. Please don’t impinge on that!
- Ivy Blum, MAHOPAC, NY
We go on the trails to enjoy nature not to read ads. Please respect the wishes of your constituents and leave it alone. Thank you.
- Linda Johnson, CARMEL, NY
We do not need ugly, commercial signs interfering with our enjoyment of the picturesque Trailways.
- Jeff Davis, CARMEL, NY
1) It is disingenuous for the people involved to try and pass this idea off onto the public as something good and worthwhile.
2) We need to be able to get away from advertising and commercialism somewhere, and the trail is a good place to do so.
- Wendy Alvarez, CARMEL, NY
A trailway should be a place for the public to enjoy the beauties of nature without being subjected to commercialism of any kind.
- Patrica Cappozza MAHOPAC, NY
This is a misuse of public property and should never be allowed to go forward.
- Edie Keasby PATTERSON, NY
Please do not trash up our beautiful trailways with commercial ads. Let boy and girl scouts put up milage markers with only their troop indentification. Thank you.
- Gail Blumenfeld, PLEASANTVILLE, NY
I enjoy the quiet of the trail way and the natural landscaping. I will definitely boycott anyone business that advertises here. I think this is an awful idea. If you need mile markers the country should provide something small and discreet. Advertising is a really awful idea.
- Jeff Green,KENT CLIFFS, NY
I want to ride in nature w/o commercials
- Victor Chase, YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY
We are already inundated with too much advertising. Additionally, signage on the bike path would be a distraction to riders and, therefore, a safety hazard.
- Jeff Gitlin, WHITE PLAINS, NY
Nature should be kept natural.
- Joseph Montouri, MAHOPAC, NY
My family, my friends, and I ride the Trailway to get away from signage and enjoy the unspoiled beauty of this part of Putnam County. Please don’t degrade it with for-profit signage.
- Richard Egnor, LINCOLNDALE, NY
Ads are invading everywhere. Please not on the trailway.
- Keith Boyer, BRONXVILLE, NY
I think everyone using the trails appreciated the serenity of the surrondings which would be impeded by these proposed signs. Thank you.
- Randall Wolf, GARRISON, NY
The signs are not needed and it is unclear how or why this idea came about. Who will get the money and what will be done with it.
- John Cool, PELHAM, NY
- I would hate to see the beautiful, natural environment of the trailway ruined by advertising.
- Christine Schoepen, SOUTH SALEM, NY
No profit-motivated company!
- Richard Markert KATONAH, NY
- The visual pollution of advertisements masquerading as mile markers will be a blight on the Putnam County Trailway. The rationale of “public safety” for placement of the advertisements is a transparent ploy that fools no one. The County Executive’s plan to sign a contract for placement of these ads, with a company whose principals have local political connections, smacks of back-room dealmaking and reflects an astonishing disregard for the public good.
- Terry Burke, CORNWALL BRIDGE, CT
I love the trailway unspoiled
- Rick Marcus, NEW YORK, NY
It would be most appreciated if you could preserve some aspects of outdoor life without commercialism: including parks, hiking paths, trailways, and playgrounds