Editor, The Spotlight:
I write in response to the recent letters (from David Van Luven, May 30 and Judy Thomson, June 6) advocating for the preservation of open space in Bethlehem. I was not one of the 900 people who signed a petition urging the town to create an open space program, but I would gladly add my name to theirs. The open spaces in Bethlehem are truly important to our town’s character and its livability. It saddens me that many of my favorite bike routes and views are being built up by developers.
Bethlehem’s woods, meadows and working farms appeal to me particularly as a bicyclist. I ride my bicycle regularly with others in the Team in Training program, and we participate in rides throughout the greater Capital District. While I have enjoyed wonderful rides with spectacular scenery in many places, I have often had to drive some distance with my bike on the back of the car to do so. In Delmar, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to live in a community where I can walk out of my house, hop on my bike and be out in beautiful countryside in no time. The proximity of undeveloped land where I can enjoy the great outdoors and get some fun exercise is of tremendous value to me and many other like-minded people. I am sure it contributes to the market value of my home as a consequence.
In her letter, Ms. Thomson mentioned the preserves of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy in town. They are undoubtedly wonderful areas and a great resource for those who like to hike. For many of us in town, however, open space does not have to be an area with public access for walking. Rather, it is enough simply to drive by in a car or ride by on a bicycle to enjoy the benefits of some land that is kept from suburban sprawl. I hope the town will move forward to create an open space program and, when it does so, that it takes into consideration the simple benefits of the view from the road.