Three Falls Woods features unique geological terrain and a network of hiking trails. The CNY Land Trust has proposed a small parking area on Sweet Road to provide easier public access to the site. (Photo by David Tyler)
In late 2017, the CNY Land Trust acquired about 80 acres adjacent to Sweet Road and Seneca Turnpike popularly known as Three Falls Woods. Now, the nonprofit would like to create a small parking lot on Sweet Road to provide public access to the property, which is designated as a critical environmental area.
On Jan. 28, Jack Gramlich, a land steward with the CNY Land Trust, presented the town of Manlius Planning Board with plans for a parking area on the east side of Sweet Road, a few hundred yards north of the intersection with Seneca Turnpike. The crushed stone parking lot would have nine spaces, including a handicapped space, and would feature a kiosk with a trail map and the history of the property.
Three Falls Woods is made up of several parcels of land – some private, some public – and has been a popular place for hikers and dog walkers for many years. In the past several years, the owners of the private portions of the land have erected fencing and “Posted” signs at trailheads on Sweet Road, Seneca Turnpike and Glencliffe Road. Portions of the woods are owned by the village of Manlius.
The land owned by the Land Trust was donated in 2017 by Manlius residents Harold and Barbara Jones, who purchased the land with the express purpose of donating it for the good of the community.
“For the past year, we’ve been trying to figure out what the best place is to have access,” Gramlich told the board. He said the Land Trust looked at multiple locations on Sweet Road and Seneca Turnpike, and this location had the best sight lines and wouldn’t require anyone to walk along the road.
The property features unique cliff formations and waterfalls. A network of trails throughout Three Falls Woods connects with both Sweet and Seneca Turnpike, as well as a number of neighborhoods that border the property. Some of these trails are on private land.
Gramlich said the people attracted to properties owned by the CNY Land Trust aren’t typically people that would make a lot of noise or do damage to the property. The land is currently available to the public from dawn until dusk for low-impact recreation such as hiking, photography and nature study. Hunting, trapping, fires, camping and the use of motorized vehicles are prohibited.
Gramlich said he has surveyed the property owners on either side of the proposed parking area, and neither are in support of the CNY Land Trust’s plans. Because of the natural vegetation, the parking lot would be largely hidden from the neighbors but would be easily visible from the road. Planners suggested the Land Trust consider planting additional vegetation as a natural site barrier between the lot and the neighbors.
A public hearing on the Land Trust’s plans to build the parking lot will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11 in the Manlius Town Hall.
David Tyler is the publisher of Eagle Newspapers.