After exploring plans to close off the Homestead Estates Pedestrian Spur Trail following safety concerns, the Allen Township Board of Supervisors heard from a handful of residents in favor of keeping the trail. Several homeowners in and around Homestead Estates participated in the supervisors’ September 22 virtual meeting, expressing their love for the trail and the benefits it provides.
“Individuals in the community have grown fond of the path over the years,” said borough manager Ilene Eckhart.
“A majority of Homestead Estate residents did not know about the complaints,” said resident Maria Gougoustamos.
She added that the trail brings the community together. Residents walk their dogs, exercise, ride bikes, and play with their children. The trail also provides a safe way of accessing Wayne Grube Park, since East Bullshead Road has no sidewalks.
Plans for eliminating the trail were explored after a resident complained of loitering and trespassing. However, those present during Tuesday’s meeting said that resident, Joseph Younes, did not speak for them.
Younes, who was present during the meeting, said he did not want to take away convenience from any resident, but safety concerns outweigh any convenience.
“People are constantly walking by and staring at us,” he said. “I gave it time, [but] it just seemed to be something that repeated itself more often than I would like it to.” He cited walkers taking pictures of his home, watching children, and loitering.
His two young daughters accompanied him during the virtual meeting. His oldest daughter said she worries about playing outside and described seeing men on the trail watching her play.
Susan Mattaboni, a neighbor, said residents should have known what they bought into when purchasing a home alongside a trail. Meanwhile her husband, John, acknowledged that there is a little bit of an insecurity and invasion of privacy. He asked supervisors whether the trail could remain private for use by Homestead Estates residents only.
Neighbor Kevin Fenstermaker expressed similar concerns and asked whether the trail could be gated and residents could be given a key.
Solicitor Lincoln Treadwell asked residents to think carefully about this request. The trail can either be private or public. If it is private, it will have to be maintained by residents. If it stays public, the township cannot restrict its use.
Supervisors decided to leave the future of the trail up to residents.
“Let them really think this out and come back later,” said Supervisor Gerarld Montanari. “They live as a community, let them work it out.”
Supervisor Gary Behler agreed. “[We want to] do what is best for the community…but we did not hear the whole community,” he said. “I think the community themselves should come up with a consensus for what they want to do and bring that to us. The township can help design and implement.”
In the meantime, the township will send residents a questionnaire and visit the trail themselves to see whether or not there are visible safety concerns.