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Popular bike path needs $40K worth of maintenance, according to advisory committee

One thing the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow down was the use of Riverhead Town’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Trail in Calverton, according to officials, who say it continued to draw people even during cold weather.

The path, now in its fourth year, is popular with cyclists, dog walkers and pedestrians, and is built around the former Grumman security ring, with a fence between the trail and the road. 

During COVID especially, “the abundance of use succeeded tremendously,” said Councilman Ken Rothwell at last Thursday’s Town Board work session.

“Gyms were closed down, as were recreation centers and places of gathering. It was the outdoor environment and the EPCAL trail that was there for everyone, and the usage was phenomenal.”

Ray Coyne, the superintendent of parks and recreation in Riverhead, said that uses of the park remained high during the pandemic, although he said his department has no statistics on park usage. 

The town’s alternative transportation advisory committee says the trail needs some upgrades, although not everyone agrees.

The committee says the path needs about $40,000 in maintenance, according to Mr. Rothwell, the Town Board’s liaison to the committee. 

Town engineer Drew Dillingham said the committee began discussing this in March and was interested in sealing cracks in the path. But he said he looked at the path with assistant engineer Ken Testa, Highway Superintendent George Woodson and some contractors and none of them felt the situation was dangerous. 

“It needs to be addressed but it’s not an emergency situation,” Mr. Dillingham said.

He said he’s waiting for a quote on the cost of applying patch on Line Road, and then they can address the cost of the rest of the cracks on the trail. 

Councilwoman Catherine Kent said the town needs to maintain the trail as an annual budget item. 

Mr. Dillingham said the alternative transportation advisory committee wants increased mowing on the trail, but to do that, he would need another employee. 

To mow both sides of the entire trail takes 14 hours, he said.

Mr. Rothwell said the reason the committee wants the grass mowed back off the trail is because of ticks.

The committee also wants the town to widen the first three miles of the trail. That section is eight feet wide, while the remainder of the 9.3-mile trail is 10 feet wide. Mr. Rothwell said there are some 90-degree turns on the trail that should also be widened. 

“One thing that people lose sight of is that it’s not supposed to be a fast trail,” Mr. Dillingham said.