Two years ago, Joseph and Kelli Havranek realized that they were faced with a possible public trail through their backyard. The Towns of Rosendale and Marbletown were planning the Rondout Creek Canalway Trail, but little information was available. They had not been involved in property rights, but were active in the Democratic Party. They became organizers, and formed the Rondout Landowners Alliance. By attending town board meetings and using Freedom on Information Law requests, they discovered that the supposedly local trail to be put through the private properties along the old route of the Delaware and Hudson (D & H) Canal was a decades-old project that had been repeatedly defeated in their locality, but resurrected again and again.
The Havraneks discovered that the trail project was not a local one at all, but part of a major effort involving the National Park Service, other federal, state and local agencies, and non-profit organizations, with the ultimate plan being to complete a public trail along the old D & H Canal route for the entire 108 miles across the state from the Hudson River near Kingston to the Delaware River at Port Jervis. They discovered that almost every non-profit organization and state and federal agency that would be involved in greenways and trails in New York State was meeting on the sly, but that the property owners were not invited.
Focusing on liability issues and the threat of eminent domain, their organizing of the immediate property owners and the rest of the people of the towns of Rosendale and Marbletown awakened the residents to a threat to the private properties immediately threatened and those potentially affected by the future enlargement of the D & H Canal greenway. They pointed out the distorted future sought by the supporters of the project, one of an economy based strictly on tourism and elite property ownership, with little room for the traditional rural economy.