A large audience for the March 26th regular monthly meeting of the Melbourne Village Commission required moving to the larger building next door belonging to the American Homesteading Foundation. Photo: Mayor Downey explains the timeline of actions leading to acceptance by vital interests to further development of the Bike-pedway.
Andy Anderson, Brevard Commissioner District Five
David Isnardi, Chief of Staff for Brevard Commissioner District 5
John Denninghoff, Brevard Director of Public Works
Leigh Holt, Brevard TPO Program Manager
Georganna Gillette, Brevard Transportation Specialist
Kim Smith, Brevard Bike-Ped Safety & Education Coordinator
Ezra Acopian, Manager, Acopian Technical Company
Glenn Hawks, President, Brevard Mountain Bike Assoc.
Glen Dunnam, Trail Coordinator, BMBA
Sandy Sanderson, Governmental Affairs Officer, FP&L
Jerry Orloff, Business Manager, The Eye Institute
Marshall Reeves, Owner, Infinity Bike Shop
On March 26th at the regular monthly Commission meeting of Town of Melbourne Village the agenda item ‘Proposal for a bike-pedway’ was defeated by a vote of 6 to 1. Many of you spent hours of your time to help me accomplish what I felt was needed to provide my Town with a basic plan, knowing details remained to be resolved.
A motion was stated ‘for the mayor to cease all efforts to create a bike-pedway’. The motion passed despite my expressed intention to hold a workshop and public hearing at a later date.
In hindsight some controversy might have been avoided had I changed the south portion of the course by extending it along the opposite (south) side of the M-1 Canal, thus totally eliminating the north side which placed the trail closer to some homes. The desired workshop and further evaluation might have resolved various issues but hasty action of my Commission eliminates any possibility for correction.
However, just making changes to the route would not have satisfied many speakers having complaints beyond considerations of exact course. My perceptions of the Town’s citizens have been severely jolted. Melbourne Village was founded in 1957 and has always been characterized as being somewhat ‘quirky and different’. The audience speakers on March 26th exemplified this persona.
I expected rational questions relating to details. Instead I was confronted with disdain for ‘the outsiders’ who venture into the Town even for legitimate reasons. Some feared ‘they’ would invade private trails of the HOA “once they become bored with the perimeter trails and are looking for more”. Other concerns involved potential disruption to animals, birds, liability, maintenance, privacy, trail security, and even overuse by extreme birdwatchers referred to as ‘twitchers’ by one speaker!
Public Town assets previously attained were scrutinized and debased as already being annoying attractions to ‘the outsiders’. And there was concern for safety. The term “biker gangs” was used frequently to envision dangers to walkers on Town roads despite the proposed course being almost entirely on existing unpaved right-of-ways. I was questioned as to why my time wasn’t being more constructively used to find a means for curtailing incidents of noisy mischief regularly occurring just outside the Town borders in neighboring jurisdictions.
Hypothetical scenarios for the bike-pedway included visions of motorcycles, homeless transients and criminal trespassing of backyards, noise, and litter. There was strong concern for toilet facilities with statements such as “they’ll be peeing in our backyards and maybe even worse”. My debate with the audience went on for 1 hour and 48 minutes.
A few resident supporters attended but sat quietly and listened. Only one dared go to the podium, the others intimidated and believing it useless to speak. Later I received a message from a resident so disturbed he stated, “I walked home from the meeting while considering putting my home on the market”. The majority of the audience voiced desire for adherence to an isolationist policy maintaining a closed environment protected from intrusion by non-residents. This made the concept of a perimeter bike-pedway an unlikely improvement to those so invested in believing otherwise.
I knew most proposed bike-trail-pedestrian pathways have met opposition and mine would be no different. However, I underestimated the depth to the lack of understanding for the benefits associated with this asset for the economic hub of our County and Town where users could quickly access existing right-of-ways for their recreation and fitness benefit. My reference to the many internet published studies and research documentation that support bike-pedways and trails was completely ignored and questioned for relevance.
Cyclists, runners and pedestrians have used the long known easements for the 24 years I’ve lived in Melbourne Village. My intention was to make the trails improved, fully legitimate, sanctioned and managed by a Town. I expect they will continue to be occasionally used in the future by runners and cyclists in the same well mannered way as they have been in the past without need for Melbourne Village
Again, I thank you for your time, guidance and support.
Town of Melbourne Village
VIDEO OF TRAILS
These videos of unimproved trail sections are speeded to 25mph. Since some sections of trail are inaccessible currently, some roads are seen but most would be eliminated in the final version of the route.
Use the sprocket icon to improve quality if your bandwidth supports HD 720p .
Viewing these three videos shows about 5 miles in 12 minutes.
Research Supports The Benefits
Because many wonder of the affects of living close to trails and paths, research, surveys, and analysis has provided valuable information to support claims of the benefits to security and home value.
Click this link to connect to a directory of websites for 17 various studies with a brief description of each. Some of these studies use sophisticated analytical tools in measuring increased home values.
Information About The Trail Project
When I became mayor of Town of Melbourne Village in November 2012 I recognised an opportunity to add an asset to my Town I had dreamed of many times. I imagined a perimeter bike-pedway surrounding the perimeter of the Town. Runners, walkers, and mountain bike cyclists would have a place to enjoy these pursuits in a place of natural serenity within close proximity to the economic hub of south Brevard County. The planning and meetings have started and I have hope the objectives will be reached. Though great progress has already been achieved, the objective is still far from being certain.
Brevard County, like most Florida counties has an established grid of drainage canals with parallel maintenance easements. Easements and other right of way options could be adapted for non-motorized travel without great expense. Aside from road bikes with narrow tires, most cyclists do not require pavement. Right of way easements normally have trees already removed so excavation could be almost entirely un-necessary. Where seen to be beneficial, wood mulch processed at the nearby Breavard County landfill could be an inexpensive means of padding the surface of a four to five foot wide trailway to be used by people with diverse purposes and need. Crossing roads might be the limited exposure cyclists and pedestrians would have with motor vehicles as they traveled their route. Often these might be a t traffic lights. Below are two proposed loops surrounding Melbourne Village that could be expanded north, west and east.
For all my fellow neighbors of the Town of Melbourne Village, please know the trail network proposed does not utilize any of the existing trails owned by the AHF, a private foundation. The trails shown will be on County, Town and private property if approved.
There will be additional links coming. These will provide further information regarding projects already finished throughout the nation.