If you ask Mayor James F. Nowalk, there's really no question: The Cherryvale Path is fair game for area residents and visitors who want to take that shortcut from Cherryvale Drive to Springmeadow Court.
But at least one person disagrees with the mayor, posting "PRIVATE PROPERTY" and "NO TRESPASSING" signs along the walkway and adjoining ramp.
Technically, that person is at least half-right: The Cherryvale Path is on private property. But Mayor Nowalk said at a Whitehall Council meeting on Wednesday night that the path has been traversed for at least two decades and that pedestrians have a legal "easement" to use it.
The path even predates the owned parcel that it sits on between Cherryvale and the Whitehall Farms townhomes area, according to Nowalk, who was instrumental in creating the Cherryvale Path Association years ago as a way to preserve the once-dirt-and-grass route.
"You needed that legal entity to acquire the easement," Nowalk said in an interview after the meeting, pointing out that the path was eventually changed to a hard surface by a local Eagle Scout volunteer.
"For the most part, people were happy," Nowalk said, "but obviously, if you live next to it, and it's people coming up (from nearby , perhaps), you're not as happy."
In response to the NO TRESPASSING signs—and because the Cherryvale Path Association is without a resident leader at the moment—Nowalk has suggested to the Whitehall Council that it take authority over the Cherryvale Path, much like it has over another Whitehall path that runs from Highgrove Road to Spring Valley Drive.
"When you go over somebody's property for 21 years ... you can create what's called a prescriptive easement," Nowalk said. "That's the term. And nothing can be done to block that."
Dictionary.law.com defines "easement" as "the right to use the real property of another for a specific purpose ... Typical easements are for access to another property."
Said Nowalk, "They (pedestrians) continue to have that right. You can't take that right away."
The Whitehall Council has not yet decided what action it will take regarding the Cherryvale Path—if any at all—but Nowalk said that he will defend his opinion with the regarding rightful pedestrian use.
And with fireworks coming to Caste Village again this year on June 29, that's good news for anyone looking for a shorter walk to a closer look at the action.
Check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch for more odds and ends from Wednesday night's borough meeting.
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