When we gathered last December 1st on a drizzly day for the ground breaking of the Brickyard Trail in Brighton, no one knew exactly what to expect. For a few months after, all we saw were mounds of gravel, a rickety wood bridge, several bulldozers freezing and Danger and Keep Out signs.
But as the work slogged through winter and spring, yesterday’s reward was more than ample: the dedication of the Sandra L. Frankel Nature Park.
On an afternoon in this summer for the ages, in her speech Sandra thanked the person who gave her a handkerchief in case she got emotional. In the speech, Sandy had a page worth of deserved thanks, including for town council members and staff who first began planning the trail and park in the 1990s and local preservationists who worked as partners with the town government until the ribbon was cut yesterday.
Of course, much of the thanks goes to Sandra. In On a stainless steel American Bald Eagle in Buckland Park, we called Sandy the “Frederick Law Olmstead of Brighton.”
During her tenure as Brighton Town Supervisor, Sandy pushed for the realization of an expansive and expanding park system: Meridian Centre Park, Buckland Park, Corbett’s Glen Nature Park, The Lehigh Valley Multi-Use Trail, the Twelve Corners Memorial Park, Persimmon Park and Lynch Woods Park. Now as Town Supervisor emeritus, perhaps none more fitting than the Sandra L. Frankel Nature Park.
In his speech, current Town Supervisor William Moehle rightfully praised Sandy and also give a shout out to the tireless construction workers who started promptly every day at 7am, properly following the Town’s early morning noise ordinance.
Bill also explained the history on which we were standing. The brick square area at the Elmwood entrance is imprinted with dates that correspond to rows of colored bricks representing the output of bricks made at the Rochester Brick and Tile Factory. (see Supervisor Moehle’s Brighton-Pittsford Post essay at end)
Bill also honored Brighton artist Leo Dodd (1927 – 2015) who championed the Trail and Park for decades but sadly, having attended the groundbreaking but passing away about a month later, did not live to see its fruition.
Leo’s son, Paul, said a few words on his father’s behalf who — had Leo been there — would have been too modest to take any credit himself. Later I learned from Paul that he and Leo would pull in the adjacent Temple B’rith Kodesh parking lot on the way home from Leo’s doctor’s appointments to check on the trail progress. On the last visit, Leo was too sick to get out of the car so he had Paul take photos.
Paul also directed me to Leo’s wonderful site The Brighton Brick that tells the story of Giddeon Cobb’s Rochester Brick and Tile Factory and much more.Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo — remarking that she had gotten to know Sandra quite well last summer — offered praise for the efforts of Sandy and others, most often crossing party lines. And Brighton Chief of Police Mark Henderson took our picture. Last summer, I had another photo op with Cheryl at the Summer Serenade concert in Buckland Park.
On the trail walk after the speech, I met Rudolph Harris and Theresa Bowick at the Dedication on behalf of the Conkey Cruisers. The Cruisers promote urban bike paths like the El Camino Trail. Rudolph and Theresa have seen how popular biking and walking paths bring together a community in healthy ways.
Also, on the trail walk, NYS Assemblyman Joe Morelle readily agreed to play in a Sunday softball Game at Corners.
Back in the day, Joe was a solid softball fast
pitch catcher. Joe announced — like a latter day King and His Court — he challenges us to a fast pitch game in which Joe will use only 4 players on his side.
There is one wrinkle in the Brickyard Trail of which you should be aware. The ghosts of John and Irene Bott — perpetrator and victim in a 1922 murder in Brighton — may walk the Trail and reside in the old Groos Farmhouse on Westfall.
After Brighton Memorial Librarian Matthew Bayshore displayed an impressive exhibit on the 1922 murder, we created a suburban legend that John and Irene — re-awakened by the construction — haunt the Brickyard Trail.
Fearing the same kind of panic that struck Rochester in ’38, we have been clear the tale is a myth. There are no ghosts on the Brickyard Trail.
And in Casper scores the winning run at The Corners, we properly showed that those ghosties were not real but actually humans costumed as ghosts.
So I felt at ease last night when Dean and I took an inaugural bike ride on the Trail.
Still leery from his spectral encounter with John and Irene, Dean had not been on the Trail since winter. Like everyone, he was impressed. The Trail reminded Dean of spots in the Burnham Beeches when he lived in England where similar trails are built over swampy areas.But when we came the same explanatory text/plaque where I had met Theresa and Rudolph, we beheld some amblers who did not at all resemble our fellow bikers and walkers. Only revealing themselves as Casper and Casperina, the two creatures were quite friendly. C & C were happy the trail was open as now they could meet new friends of all sorts .
In their Groos Farmhouse homestead, C & C do have wi-fi. And, of course, they are avid Talker readers, remarking they share the sentiment on Brighton’s welcoming nature described in Celebrating diversity on the Fourth of July at Meridian Centre Park.
As the sun set and the two suddenly vanished, Dean and I biked the remainder of the trail as a deer jumped across the path and the bushes were lit up with fireflies. We enjoyed the same sounds of nature as had Leo Dodd when he drew his loving pictures of the park.
ALSO ON BRIGHTON