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Mount Kisco to Try DPW to Monitor Village’s Hiking Trails

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Mount Kisco officials will use members of its Department of Public Works (DPW) staff to monitor the village’s walking and hiking trails despite pleas from a group of dedicated volunteers to hire a part-time ranger.

After spending parts of two work sessions during the past month discussing the possibility of a ranger and potentially expanding its network of paths with the trail team, the Village Board plans to reconfigure the duties of its DPW members to help oversee the trails.

The trail team, led by resident and Village Historian Harry McCartney, had appealed to the board for a dedicated person that would not only patrol for public safety, but report to the village and the county police when there are issues regarding flooding, fire risk and preservation of any historical artifacts and landmarks.

A proposal presented by trail team member Ralph Vigliotti estimated that if a part-time ranger would work 35-hour weeks for six months it would cost roughly $18,000 to $20,000 a year. That person would be dedicated to the trails during the busiest stretch of the year for about $20 an hour.

Officials will try a reconfiguration of some of the duties of DPW staff, which would cost the village no extra funds and provide the service year-round.

“I want to see what we can do and how we can do it, and see if we’re successful and effective in what already exists,” said Mayor Gina Picinich. “I’m very open to figuring out how to expand, and if we’re not successful, I think what we (would) need to do is come back and discuss what the other options are.”

McCartney said he was skeptical of using DPW staff because they will likely be pulled away for other tasks and lack the expertise in handling certain situations. Over the years, there have been instances of people congregating, drinking, camping and participating in other undesirable activity on the trails that should be used for the public to walk, hike and enjoy nature.

“There’s no way a DPW fellow is going to have the law enforcement capability,” McCartney said of a ranger. “What this does is it puts the village in a positive position on so many different levels.”

Another trail team member, John Rhodes, said the efforts of the volunteers have helped the condition of the existing trails compared to about 10 or 12 years ago, but there’s room for improvement.

“It’s still not what we want it to be,” Rhodes said. “I’m talking about the established trails. It’s in much better shape in terms of infrastructure.”

Vigliotti added that Mount Kisco employing a ranger is not unique. For many years it had a ranger, but that practice stopped for some reason about 15 years ago, he said.

Deputy Mayor Lisa Abzun said it makes sense to try DPW personnel first and reevaluate it later this year. She said she expects staff to start with its patrols in as soon as a few weeks.

“It needs time to make sure it meets the needs of our residents and not necessarily the needs of the trail team, but meets the needs of our residents and our trails,” she said.

The board also rebuffed the trail team in its quest to enhance the trails in several locations around the village, including Kisco Mountain. Officials had said in a previous work session that if trails are added on the mountain and it attracts more hikers, there would be inadequate room to park.

The trail team has also lobbied working with the neighboring communities of Bedford and New Castle and nearby sanctuaries in hopes of eventually linking trails that are in each of the jurisdictions.

“I support and hear everything that you’re saying. I really do,” Picinich said last week. “I actually applaud this vision because I understand what you’re trying to achieve here. My real concern is that your vision is ahead of our capability at this time, and that’s our challenge.”


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