When I first bought the blue house in 1991, Dave Takacs informed me that I was living right around the corner from his favorite swimming hole in the county, a place called Paradise. Over the years, that piece of land off Irish Settlement became a place to walk the dogs, to bring the baby in a backpack, and to brave the ice cold water on hot summer days. The Baldwins, who owned most of the land, had cut a deal with the Finger Lakes Land Trust the year I moved here that kept the land wild yet allowed public access, at least for those of us in the know. Someone, perhaps Mr. Baldwin, mowed random paths that were lovely for dog walking.
Then, a few years back, Roy Park's daughter acquired the parcel and sold it to the land trust. Suddenly, more people knew about the land, a parking area sprang up, and a more formal trail was built. This tells more about the new Roy H. Park Preserve, including the history of the pine trees, which were apparently part of a sixth-grade project back in 1980. The last time we walked there, around Thanksgiving, there was a sign discouraging us from walking down to the swimming hole, which apparently is not part of the preserve itself.
Today, the land trust is working on a handicapped-accessible boardwalk just north of Paradise, which will allow people to view the wetlands close up in addition to walking the simple field loop. The good news is that the land will be preserved in all its glory. The bad news is that it's now a bona fide destination and not a neighborhood gem.