Hit The Trail, Rockland!

April 25, 2012


 Story and photos by Pale Rider

Happy Trails, Rockland: The Rail Trail winds west to Abington.

It took so long to complete I was starting to call it “the snail trail,” but after 18 months in the making, Rockland’s Rail Trail is ready to be enjoyed. Its shoulders are still profusely littered with trash, but this ‘Vegasite could not be happier. Like many of you, I have been looking forward to regular bike rides along the two-miles of pastoral path. (For one thing, NO HILLS!).  The family and I have already enjoyed several pleasant walks between our Howard Street ‘hood and the high school ball fields.

Since day-one the trail has had its detractors; people who think it will make it too easy for the criminal element to sneak in and out of an area. It’ll become a hobo highway, they argued. It’ll turn in to a party zone for teenagers, or a shooting gallery for the druggies. Most of the people who opposed the trail were abutters worried about the new and sudden traffic of people near their property. Let’s face it, many of those abutters were using the overgrown tracks as a personal dump for old refrigerators, air-conditioners, tires and more. The evidence is visible along every yard of the trail.

I, however, bought-in to the notion that the trail is an upgrade for the town, improving the quality of life, actually DECREASING crime, while (hopefully) increasing property values. According to Iron Horse Preservation, the non-profit company behind the development,  communities with rail-trails have experienced many positive side-effects.

Rockland Town Administrator Allan Chiocca agreed. In an interview with Wicked Local’s Seth Jacobson in March, Chiocca said, “Before the area was cleared out for the rail trail, there was a lot more trouble,” he said. “When it was all trees, kids could sneak back there to party. Now that it’s cleared out, there’s a lot more eyes on the area.”

Bygones: Relics of the old Hanover Branch still stand along the trail.

He added the area had become a virtual dumping-ground. “It’s not going to be that way anymore, especially if we have a clean-up day in the area,” Chiocca said.

Call me naive, but I believe Ooga and company. I consumed their Kool Aid of propaganda. And believe-you-me, I witnessed first-hand the kind of seedy activity that went on when the old tracks were shrouded in overgrowth. It was much easier to hide and lurk and conceal your dirty deeds before the trail was cleared. With the openness and popularity of the Rail Trail, the town scuzz-balls are going to avoid it like a vampire avoids morning. (Plus, let’s face it, if some crack head is going to break in to a house, he’s going to break in to a house, period. A smart homeowner gets a home security system or, like Pale Rider, a big, nasty German Shepherd).

The Rail Trail Awaits! So let’s lace-up our Nikes and pump up our bike-tires and get out there and rock the Rockland Rail Trail.

*Not-for-nothing, the trail makes a nifty short-cut to Dunkin’ Donuts and The Packy!

Fresh White Stripes: The trail crosses Howard Street

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