- By Dan Veaner
- Around Town
"The point itself has turned into the most amazing natural area," says Village Trustee and Deputy Mayor Lynn Leopold. "There's a huge pond in there. There are water fowl nesting there, and it's full of frogs."
With a little more effort the point and trail leading to it will be a valuable asset for village hikers. More signage leading to the point will be helpful, as well as a trail from the railroad bed to the point itself, along the lines of the Town Pathways Committee's trailways, which are well maintained and clearly marked. A community cleanup such as those organized for Salt Point and other parks around the county would make the area outstanding. Eventually it could become a great picnic and swimming spot if the Village decides to allow those activities.
Access for villagers began with the Bolton Estates development. The Village Planning Board made a small parking area at the top of Bolton Point Road a condition of developing the area that is now circled by Blackchin Boulevard. With almost nobody living in the development there were problems at first. The parking lot attracted illegal activity including dumping and even one person shooting out the street light that had been installed there.
Challenges in Developing the Trail
Leopold and Mayor Donald Hartill say there have been fewer problems since the road was designated as a walking path. Leopold says the light is intact, and she didn't see trash in the parking area. She notes that with the exception of skateboarders attracted to the long downhill run of Blackchin Boulevard undesirable activity in the area seems under control.
Hartill has talked for years about uninterrupted access to Poison Ivy Point. There are still some challenges to completing that vision. Legally the only way to get to the point is from the lake, because crossing the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks is actually trespassing. Hartill said Monday that he has not yet contacted the railroad to negotiate access across the tracks.
Signage is another challenge. A sign in the parking lot instructs dog owners to pick up after their pets. That one seems to be working -- Leopold says the grassy area by the parking lot is attractive and clean. But two signs at the entrance to Bolton Point Road are confusing. It is not at all clear that the roadway leads to anything else that is open to the public.
"One is our sign that says Greenway," Leopold complained at a Village Trustee meeting this week. "The one on top of it says 'Absolutely no tresspassing by order of the County Sheriff's Department'. Obviously people aren't paying any attention to the Sheriff's Department sign. Why is that there if we are designating it as a trail?"
Missing the Point
Once you have descended the steep hairpin road to the lake front, access to the point itself is also dicey. The water commission's pump station is at the bottom of the road, but there is no indication of how to get to Poison Ivy Point from there. In fact there is no indication there is any Village property at all. You don't even see the point itself until you have already passed it, if you happened to know to walk south along the railroad tracks.
The best way to get there from the railroad bed is to walk along the tracks for a short while, then hike through a narrow strip of woods between a murky pond and the lagoon to the south. From there you reach a narrow stone beach that leads around the point to the lagoon between the point and the mainland.
Some Cleanup Needed
Trash is strewn through the woods and onto the point, and driftwood and logs litter the beach area. But it is worth finding your way onto the point because the views of Cayuga Lake are stunning. Leopold says the best use would be to leave the point as a natural area. She said it is already attracting water fowl.
Another issue has to do with flora. Leopold wryly suggested Monday that the area be renamed Black Swallow-wort Point because the invasive species has taken over the hairpin road, the woods and the point itself.
"I looked for poison ivy," she said. "There isn't any. It's the worst infestation of black swallow-wort I have seen in the county. It's all over the properties at Bolton Point, everything on that hillside, all along the sides of the road and it's taking over everything along the shore. It's really horrible, very thick and super-agressive. It's choking out everything else that grows there."
When all is said and done Leopold says that the Trustees' hope for the park is already being realized: villagers have discovered the area and are using it.
"I was sitting in my car having a driveway moment listening to my radio," she says. "A fellow and his teenage daughters went out. The dog left a deposit and the man went to his truck and got a plastic bag. It turned out that all the cars that were parked there had dogs. So people are using the park. They're walking their dogs all the way down the road. It was very nice down there."