Rockford man feels singled out in encroachment on trail

January 10, 2013 // 0 Comments

Landscaping, playground has been there 20 years By BETH ALTENA Rockford resident Paul Golembiewski said there are 1.2 million incidents of encroachment on state land across Michigan’s public properties. With a past deadline and threats of enforcement to remove landscaping on the White Pine Trail right-of-way abutting his yard in downtown Rockford, Golembiewski feels singled out. He believes he has a solution for the state for all encroachments that would be a win-win for all residents and allow him to leave his property as is for the immediate future. “Maybe I’m a test case. Maybe this has to go to the attorney general,” said Golembiewski. When he bought his home on Cayhill in Rockford in 1977, the property abutted a then-working railroad track. Back then, 33 years ago, he received permission from the railroad owner to install landscaping, a deck and a playground on the right-of-way for the track. Right of way extends fifty feet on both sides of the rail track. DNR paperwork to Golembiewski said that his development of the right-of-way inhibits the state from maintaining the trail in a safe manner and that he has non-native plants that are inconsistent with the natural intent of the trail. Over the years his children, and now his grandchildren, enjoyed the playground, zip line and bridge over an unnamed creek. Landscaping includes encouraging a bald cypress to grow, ostrich ferns, several large decorative boulders, a fence protecting a drop-off to the creek, the arched bridge over the creek, a deck that includes a row of rubber under tongue and groove 2×6 boards, giving the deck the resonance of a basketball court. “I’ve received so many compliments on how nice this looks,” Golembiewski said of his pretty yard and tidy playground. He said he has fond memories of the years the train ran, passing behind his house. “We would wave at the engineer when he went by,” he noted. “He gave us rides.” He remembers the day on July 4, 1986 when the engineer stopped the train at his property—which just happens to be at the halfway point from one border to the other of the State of Michigan—and told him the railroad was going to cease operations. Golembiewski met the new property owner when the […]