By Jano Tantongco
The Town of Huntington recently demolished unsanctioned BMX trails that were built in the town-owned Pine Ridge Conservation Area in Melville.
Huntington town spokesman A.J. Carter said Monday that all the man-made mounds that were illegally built without the town’s permission were taken down via heavy equipment over the last few weeks.
“They encroached on town land,” Carter said, adding that the land is designated as a passive park, intended for activities like nature walks and ecology seminars.
“Several years ago,” he added, town officials told riders at the BMX trails to stop using them since they were not approved.
“Instead of stopping… they continued to encroach and expanded” the trails, he said. The trails were expanded by one acre and riders also brought in a generator for power and a barbecue grill, according to Carter. Wires ran through water and tarps used to protect the dirt ramps collected standing water, which led to an uptick in mosquitos, Carter said.
There was also an injury on the trails “a number of years ago” that required emergency personnel to respond with helicopter assistance, according to Carter.
As an alternative to the illegal trails, Carter said that the Greenlawn Skatepark -- which doesn’t have dirt trails -- is a town-approved alternative. The skate park, located at the corner of Broadway and Cuba Hill Road, has hours specifically dedicated for BMX riding.
Prior to the demolition, riders created a GoFundMe page to raise money for “legal support” to “continue negotiations to become a public park that everyone can enjoy,” according to a statement on the page. The trails, which were dubbed “The Boondocks Trails,” were created 11 years ago all by the hands of volunteers, also according to the statement.
Huntington Station resident Brian Jennings said he had walked past the trails several times in the past.
He called the riders that rode there “an unspoken club” where “everyone just puts in their part because that’s what they do and that’s what they love.”
He argued that the riders weren’t “hurting anybody” and that their gatherings were well organized, even without formal management.
“When I went in there, there was order,” he said. “There was neatness, there were garbage pails, people cleaned up after themselves.”
He added, “The people that ride those trails, they’re all dedicated riders, they’re not people that are worrying about if they’re going to fall and hurt their thumb.”
The organizer of the GoFundMe page, Jim Martinez, did not respond to requests for comment before deadline Monday.