Saturday, October 24, 2009

Running Restriction at Rockefeller State Park Update

August 22nd's post, "Reasonable, Rational Rule, or Runner Discrimination?", addressed a "walk only" rule put in place at the Rockefeller State Park Preserve that prohibited running in certain areas of the park during specified hours on the weekend and holidays (11:00 AM to 5:00 PM).


Sign at Rockefeller Park First Posted in August, 2009

The "walk-only" rule has been enforced by Park staff, and on at least one or two occasions, the method of enforcement has drawn particular attention and ire.  The issue garnered enough attention to bring in local runners, college and high school cross country coaches, three levels of supervisors from the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Office, and a New York State Assemblyman.

There were many different opinions expressed about the "walk-only" rule from all sorts of users of the Preserve (runners, walkers, and equestrians), none of which are necessarily entirely right or wrong, and folks from these user-groups got together to openly discuss the rule, the issues and specific situations that gave rise to the rule, and possible alternatives.  The end result of those discussions - the rule has been rescinded, for now, and a new sign has been crafted that will hopefully make all users of the park aware of the particular need for courtesy and common sense on the trails that are the Preserve's most heavily trafficked.  It is also park management's intention to reach out to the local high school and college coaches, in an effort to convey management's concerns with "group running" in certain areas of the Preserve - an effort to establish a dialogue intended to discuss the appropriate interpersonal interaction while on the trails in congested areas (including discussions as to how to appropriately come upon and pass horseback riders).


New Sign Posted At The Preserve

Whether you agree or disagree with the "walk-only" rule or the decision to revoke it, it is hard to not appreciate the power of people on different sides of the table working together to find alternative solutions to issues at hand.  Many times people make decisions and stick to their guns, refusing to listen to constructive criticism that is contrary to the decision made.  However, and it seems to be the rare occasion, we are sometimes pleasantly surprised to see decision makers listen to the opinions of others, consider those opinions, and acknowledge alternatives (even after the decision has been made).  This instance was a shining example of the right approach to issue resolution, regardless of whether Preserve management chose in the end to keep the "walk-only" rule (or chooses to bring it back in the future). 

2 comments:

  1. Well done Tony! Now if some of the groups of runners such as those I encountered today will yield to the right side of the trails particularly when passing in opposite directions all will be good. The trails belong to us all...lets share them courteously. Peace

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  2. You're right: It is nice that people could TALK about their issues and work out a compromise. Plus, it says a lot about the community that everyone is so invested in their health and the park!

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