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The safety of Cheektowaga's new bicycle and pedestrian pathway system was questioned by residents and defended by the Town Board on Monday night.

"Rails to Trails," linking Dingens Street Park to Stiglmeier Park through trails built along old railroad rights of way and roads, is to be completed this fall.

"You are not going to put families on bikes on Losson and Como Park and deserted railroad tracks," Anita Depczynski said, adding that she thinks the project is a "tragedy waiting to happen."

Council Member Thomas M. Johnson Jr. said there are 15 Cheektowaga police officers who ride bike patrols in the good weather who will be on the trails. In addition, they will be checked nightly, and there will be call boxes along the trail, he said.

Several residents said many people do not know what Rails to Trails is, or what path it will take.

"They honestly do not know," Kelly Robinson said. "People do not know much about this project."

Board members said the project has been talked about for years, including several public hearings and meetings of the town's taxpayer groups.

"This project has been going on almost as long as the golf course," Town Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak said.

Depczynski also said that there was no room for bicycles in Stiglmeier Park.

"Anita, there's already bikes in the park," Gabryszak told her.

Depczynski, better known as "the deer lady," also faulted the board for enacting the bait-and-shoot program to reduce the number of deer in Stiglmeier Park to make room for more recreation there.

"We didn't do bait-and-shoot to get rid of deer for other recreational purposes," Gabryszak said. "The park is a park. It's there to serve multi-purposes. It's not just a nature preserve."

Rails to Trails will cost $2.2 million and will be funded with federal grants. The town's 20 percent local share of the cost includes work already completed at Raymond Street Park and planned improvements to Dingens and Stiglmeier parks.


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