Disagreement over Garden City Greenbelt continues

Disagreement over Garden City Greenbelt continues

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by Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 11:41 PM

GARDEN CITY -- Voters in Garden City were faced with a decision on Tuesday regarding two controversial Greenbelt initiatives.

The debate centers on whether to open up a "nature trail" -- as the mayor calls it -- to cyclists, and has been going on for years.

Voters passed one initiative, and defeated another.

Much of Tuesday's disagreement boils down to language.

Initiative A deals with an unpaved trail on the north side of the river where it is illegal to ride a bike. A group called 'Citizens for an Open Greenbelt' fought to change that. However, their efforts failed.

Initiative B says any changes to the Greenbelt rules must go to a vote by the people of Garden City. Voters passed that initiative.

"(Initiative) A was to remove the provision in this Garden City code that would allow them to put signs up and block bikes from the Greenbelt," said TJ Angstman, lawyer for Citizens for an Open Greenbelt.

Angstman said Initiative B makes the restriction on the Greenbelt void until the people of Garden City vote to approve those restrictions.

"There is an ability to ride your bike there until the people specifically say that section should be closed to bicycles," Angstman said. "Until then, the signs need to be taken down, there needs to be a referendum vote at the next election."

Garden City Mayor John Evans disagrees.

"The voters, by failing to repeal the ordinance that is outlined in Initiative A, they have made the decision that the nature trail will remain as is," said Evans.

Evans said the ordinance restricting that section of the Greenbelt is already on the books, and Initiative B cannot retroactively change it.

"It can't apply to (Initiative) A in a retroactive sense to an ordinance that's already on the books," said Evans.

Garden City has handed out tickets to cyclists on this section of the Greenbelt. Evans said they would continue to do so, because it's still against the law to bike there.

He also said Garden City has already spent about $2 million on their part of the Greenbelt.

They are working on bridge near Eagle Island which will connect the south side path to the north side path. The bridge would ensure that cyclists could connect to the section of Greenbelt that runs from Eagle to Star, and beyond.

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