Residents along Aberdeen Lane, some who live under 20 feet from a proposed Rails to Trails project, cite issues of privacy and safety among their concerns. The project has gained momentum in the New Year. Pictured behind their homes and near the trail are (front) Phyllis Barone and Scarlet Houston and back (from left) Jamie and Robert Houston, Chuck Yerico, Bobbi Weiss and Pat Hyland.

As momentum picks up this year for a Rails to Trails project connecting Solon to Bainbridge Township, some residents along the trail remain up in arms over the project.

“It scares me half to death to see people there,” Aberdeen Lane resident Bobbi Weiss said, referring to tree and brush clearing that has taken place recently along the path.

Ms. Weiss has lived on the street for 22 years, and has only seen people along the trail maybe a handful of times, she said.

“There is no reason to have this in someone’s back yard,” Ms. Weiss said.

For some residents along Aberdeen Road, which is located off of Liberty Road, the trail is under 20 feet from their property and line of sight.

“We can pretty much make eye contact with the person (clearing the trees),” Aberdeen Lane resident Jamie Houston said. “Our sunporch is a stone’s throw from the trail.”

The Solon to Bainbridge trail, proposed to cost about $2.97 million and measuring 2.1 miles, would convert abandoned train tracks into walking and bike paths, from SOM Center Road to the Bentleyville line. Further plans call for the trail to extend through Bentleyville to Bainbridge Township, just steps from Chagrin Falls.

Plans for this trail had stalled back in 2019 due to a lack of commitment from the Cleveland Metroparks to build a bridge that would extend the trail. Also, residents who lived along the trail had concerns in the area of safety and privacy.

But this year, Mayor Edward H. Kraus said he expects an agreement from the park system, who has begun site clearing work, and to bring that lease agreement to City Council.

“We’re really not happy about this,” Ms. Houston, who serves as secretary of the neighborhood’s Homeowner’s Association, said. “Our privacy is something that will be intruded on.

“It seems ridiculous.”

“We’re in the dark,” Aberdeen Lane resident Phyllis Barone continued, “and we need a voice.”

Ms. Barone, who is the treasurer of the HOA, said that back when this project first began being discussed, she asked that their neighborhood be informed of any progress since they live so close and had such grave concerns.

“We are affected by this whole process,” Ms. Barone said.

She said when site clearing began a couple weeks ago, she had not been informed.

Mayor Kraus said residents had received notice.

Ms. Barone said some did, but not all.

“There were trucks behind my house and all this noise,” Ms. Barone said.

She said the residents deserve a private meeting with the mayor on this matter.

“Why upset all these people?” Ms. Weiss said of moving ahead with this project. “Why can’t they just walk in the Metroparks? There is no reason to put a 2 mile trail behind our house.

“They don’t know who will be walking these,” she added.

Ms. Houston, who moved into her home a year and a half ago and didn’t know about this project at that time, said she has a swing set close to her property line.

“We are feeling it’s a liability to us with people having access to our deck and our back yard, and we are not comfortable with it,” she said. “I don’t know where we go from here, but I am definitely not happy about this.”

Neighbors reached to their Ward Councilman Jeremy A. Zelwin and the administration.

Mr. Zelwin said Monday the ball is, and has been, with the administration. He said he has spoke to some of the residents.

“I understand what their concerns are because I have been there and seen them first hand,” Mr. Zelwin said.

He said there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before moving forward with the project, “but my priority is protecting the privacy for the residents.”

Mr. Zelwin said the city needs to know the Metroparks are involved and what the costs are moving forward. They also need information on the trail’s ongoing management and what the broader plan is past Solon, he said.

“Without understanding on the broader plans, it is very difficult to make decisions,” Mr. Zelwin said. He said he has not been involved in any trail discussions since it last came up.

Mayor Kraus said last week he will “absolutely” address the resident’s concerns.

“We will be meeting with them (Metroparks) to make sure the screening is taken care of,” Mayor Kraus said, especially those closest to the trail. “It’s a privacy issue.”

Mayor Kraus continued that it is the Metroparks who will be “doing the deal, constructing the trail.”

He noted that preliminary clearing of the path had to be done.

The project is expected to be tackled in two phases, he said, with phase one covering the area from Carter Lumber to the city’s border with Bentleyville, and phase two being the bridge into Bainbridge Township, just steps from Chagrin Falls.

“They will start in 2022 for sure,” Mayor Kraus said. “The bottom line is, it’s public land.

“It’s not their (the neighbors) land,” he continued “With public land, the public should have access to it because we paid for that land. Everyone has a right to develop their land. That’s America.

“I can’t tell my neighbor what to do with their property,” he added.

Mayor Kraus said that, especially with Aberdeen Lane as they are so close, “I told them their concerns will be addressed.

“We won’t do this without an agreement with the Metroparks,” he said. “They are the experts in constructing trails.”

Ms. Houston said the fence would have to be over 20 feet high for her not to see the trail.

Ms. Barone said she has a call into the Metroparks to explain their concerns.

“This is a very scary,” Ms. Weiss said, “and I’m not the only one who is scared.”

“We know nothing, zero,” Ms. Barone said. “They cleared trees, and supposedly they will do more.

“We are not at easy times these days,” she added. “It’s very scary when you live alone and there’s this trail that is open to everybody.

“We are very fearful.”

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