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Setauket-Port Jefferson Greenway Trail

Relay Supports Local Charity Supporting Kenyan Children

The Setauket-based Hope Children’s Fund, a local charity that supports AIDs-affected  former “street children” at the Jerusha Mwiraria Hope Children’s Home in Meru, Kenya, found a novel way to continue their fundraising effort, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Every year since 2005, the Fund has hosted a Bi-Continental 5K Run/Walk to generate income for the Home. The group has been holding the event on the Port Jefferson Station to Setauket Greenway Trail on a weekend day at 10 a.m. since 2014. The Kenyans start their part of the competition at 4 p.m., seven time zones to the east of the U.S. 

Last Saturday, Oct. 24, the group held a much smaller event. A select group of competitors ran or walked over a 5K course on the Greenway Trail. Ryan Filippi, an Interact Club member at Port Jefferson Middle School, and his mother Deirdre Filippi, the Interact adviser, handed out water to participants, meeting them at the turn around point and directing the flow of the competitors.

Meanwhile, HCF has also employed the services of EliteFeats, a company that publicizes competitions that attract fitness enthusiasts, to run independently on any 5K course of their choosing on any day between now and Nov. 1, and donate the contributions to Hope Children’s Fund from those who pledged to support our effort.

The pandemic in Kenya has resulted in shortages of food and other necessities, and the income from the event will be used to help keep the Children’s Home afloat. 

“It was a good day for runners in both Port Jefferson Station, and the Kenyan highlands,” Larry Hohler, the president of HCF said. “We are waiting for the East African report on how much they beat us by.”

The Greenway Trail runs between Port Jefferson Station and East Setauket. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Suffolk County Police detectives are investigating an incident during which a woman was attacked by a man while walking on the Port Jefferson Station to Setauket Greenway Trail Tuesday.

Police said a 54-year-old woman was walking on Greenway Trail around a quarter mile from the eastern entrance in Port Jefferson Station, at around 11:30 a.m. Oct. 21 when a man tackled her from behind. The woman was knocked to the ground and the man put his hand over her mouth and made comments that were sexual in nature. The man fled toward the trail entrance when the woman screamed as they were approached by another walker.

The man was described as Black, in his 30s, approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall and heavyset. He was wearing a black sweatshirt with green sweatpants with a black stripe down the side. The woman was not injured.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this incident to call the 6th precinct at 631-854-8652 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.

The North Shore Rail Trail from Mount Sinai to Wading River has leveled the land where the path is expected to go. Photo by Kyle Barr

The North Shore Rail Trail, formerly known as the Rails to Trails Recreational Path, is an approximately 10-mile recreational path and is currently under construction on the former Long Island Rail Road right of way, owned by the Long Island Power Authority. The trail runs from Crystal Brook Hollow Road in Mount Sinai to Wading River Manor Road in Wading River and parallels Route 25A. 

The North Shore Rail Trail from Mount Sinai to Wading River has leveled the land where the path is expected to go. Photo by Kyle Barr

In a release, Suffolk County Leg. Sarah Anker’s (D-Mount Sinai) office said that Suffolk County Department of Public Works and DF Stone Contracting have removed the topsoil from west to east along the trail path and will continue to grade the area and lay down the subbase within the upcoming months. DPW anticipates that it will begin laying down asphalt from west to east after April 15, weather permitting. Shrubbery has been removed to clear a handicap-accessible path at the Town of Brookhaven Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. The trail is estimated to be completed in the fall of 2021.

The project was first suggested over 50 years ago by local civic members and was reintroduced in 2001 by advocates of bicycle organizations, the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail and some community residents. The path is being funded by federal and state grants totaling close to $10 million, with a $500,000 match from Suffolk County. Suffolk County entered into a licensing agreement with LIPA to utilize the right of way for the trail. The engineering group NV5 was chosen by DPW to plan and design the trail.

In 2019, DPW approved DF Stone Contracting to construct the trail, reducing the cost of construction by approximately $2 million through the request-for-proposal process. The release said the county will work with the Town of Brookhaven Highway Department and New York State Department of Transportation for trail signage and lighting installation at road intersections. Maintenance of the trail will involve a partnership with not-for-profit organizations and Suffolk County Department of Parks. Suffolk County police and SCDP will provide law enforcement oversight for the trail.

People looking for more information can contact Anker’s office at 631-854-1600.

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Participants enjoy a walk and talk on the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail April 18. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Every day, Brookhaven residents walk or ride bikes along the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail, a paved path surrounded by nature that easily could have been taken over by cars and trucks.

Herb Mones shows participants invasive plants along the Setauket-Port Jefferson Greenway Trail. Photo by Rita J. Egan

On April 18, the Three Village Community Trust kicked off its spring Join the Conversation series with a walk and talk presentation dedicated to the nearly 3.5-mile trail. A little more than a dozen participants joined Herb Mones, TVCT trustee, and Charles McAteer, Friends of the Greenway chair, at the Limroy Lane entrance in Setauket to learn about the trail’s history.

The walk and talk was held in anticipation of the greenway’s 10th anniversary in June, as the first phase of the trail opened between Gnarled Hollow Road and Sheep Pasture Road in 2009.

Mones and McAteer said those who travel the greenway can experience a variety of landscapes, including an old-growth forest, a centuries-old woodland with a variety of trees and species; a field of rhododendrons that nursery owners once grew for Gold Coast estate owners; a sandpit; and the former Lawrence Aviation Industries property.

In 1999, residents began discussing what to do with land acquired in the 1960s by the New York State Department of Transportation that ran from East Setauket by the site of what is now the headquarters of hedge fund Renaissance Technology to the park and ride on Hallock Road in Port Jefferson Station. Mones said the state’s original intent was to create a bypass to Route 25A during an era when transportation departments were looking to move as many vehicles as possible as quickly as possible.

During the 1980s and ’90s, the state was under pressure to move people not only by cars but with different modalities of transportation, according to Mones.

“What better way did New York State have in fulfilling its mission to create an alternative to vehicles than having a greenway built,” he said. “So, it became not only an advantage to this community but also something the state could hang its hat on and say, ‘We’re doing something other than building bigger and better roadways.’”

Mones said the residents first met in 1999 to discuss the trail in the office of Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket). Mones and McAteer said the meeting included different members of the community with various opinions, including those who were against the trail.

“It was the biggest disaster ever,” Mones said, adding that many residents weren’t familiar with greenways and were apprehensive about the idea.

Attendees learn about the Setauket-Port Jefferson Greenway Trail during a walk and talk April 18. Photo by Rita J. Egan

One of the biggest concerns of residents was people walking behind their property and potentially stealing from their homes.

Mones said it took a whole year before the community reengaged and organized a task force, and it took about 10 years until its opening in 2009. Earlier meetings were held at Renaissance Technology with the support of the hedge fund’s founder Jim Simons, and there were also smaller neighborhood meetings on Saturday mornings in cul-de-sacs and on corners to have discussions about concerns with residents, which McAteer said had more positive outcomes than the initial meeting at Englebright’s office.

Eventually, Englebright secured more than $2 million for the initial build-out and, on the federal level, former Congressman Tim Bishop (D) was able to obtain $5 million for the remaining sections of the trail. Mones added, due to the state and federal grants, the Friends group didn’t have to raise millions on their own.

While the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail had a rough start, McAteer said it inspired the future county project Rails to Trails that will run from Mount Sinai to Wading River. McAteer said Rails to Trails, which will be approximately 3 ¼ miles from the end of the greenway, had it’s opponents who at first didn’t want a trail running behind their backyards.

“They now have seen how well this trail is utilized, and how we keep it up with the Friends of the Greenway and working with our municipalities,” he said. “So now they see what can be done. So, another trail will become because of this.”

The Three Village Community Trust will hold a 10th anniversary celebration of the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail opening June 8 at 11 a.m. at the greenway on Lynx Lane just east of Old Town Road in East Setauket. For more information, visit www.threevillagecommunitytrust.org.