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April 27, 2013

Bike-track foes gird for battle

By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star

---- — Neighbors opposed to the New York Safety Track — a motorcycle training facility set to open next month in Delaware County — say they aren’t giving up without a fight.

Kitty Ballard of Harpersfield said she and others who think the facility will be much busier than what has been advertised have formed a group called Friends of Rural Life. The neighbors, she said, have been in discussions with local environmental lawyer Douglas Zamelis but have not yet formally retained him. Ballard said neighbors fear the track will be a noisy operation and create traffic headaches on local roads.

Meanwhile, the Harpersfield Town Planning Board has directed track manager Greg Lubinitsky to explain the scope of the project at a meeting to be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Harpersfield Town Hall.

Lubinitsky said he sees the meeting as an opportunity to clear the air.

“We’ll be seeing what we can and can’t do, and making everything clear,” he said. “It’s a meeting to touch base.”

The track is on a 147-acre parcel off Zimmerman Road that includes Mountain Top Airport.


After we revealed this week that the pathway for the proposed Constitution Pipeline would take the project through Clapper Hollow State Forest in the Schoharie County town of Jefferson, I got a call from a man who traces his ancestry to the Clappers for whom the preserve is named.

Michael Howard, facilities manager at O’Connor Hospital in Delhi, said he is the sixth-generation grandson of Jacob Clapper, who, with his son, William Clapper, farmed the land that is now the state forest in the early 19th century.

Howard said there are both marked and unmarked cemeteries inside the forest tract. He e believes it would be inappropriate for federal and state officials to allow the pipeline to run across the state forest.

A resident of Kortright, Howard also noted that the remains of stone walls built by his ancestors run throughout the Clapper forest.

“I would like to meet with DEC and the pipeline company to make sure it is not going to disturb any of my family’s burial sites,” he said.

When asked this week whether the state agency was taking any steps to protect the forest from the pipeline, a DEC spokeswoman provided an answer that was non-responsive, pointing out what we already know.

“This project is still in the pre-application stage,” the spokeswoman said.


It’s been more than two months since the unclothed body of Chenango County mother Jennifer Ramsaran was found off Center Road in the rural town of Pharsalia.

The Chenango County Sheriff’s Office says it is awaiting toxicology results from the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s office, which performed an autopsy after the corpse was discovered Feb. 26. Ramsaran, 36, had been reported missing Dec. 11 by her husband, Ganesh “Remy” Ramsaran, who has said he used GPS technology to locate her cell phone in Plymouth on Dec. 12.

Perhaps the most seasoned forensic pathologist I have ever interviewed is Dr. Michael Baden. For 25 years, until his recent retirement, he served as the top forensic expert for the state police. He has also been retained as a forensic expert in numerous high-profile cases, including the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, the prosecution of Marlon Brando’s son, Christian Brando, on a homicide charge; and the investigation into rape allegations against NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, among others.

I reached out to Baden earlier this week and explained to him what I knew of the status of the Ramsaran investigation, in which a cause of death has yet to be announced. Baden advised that such a long delay is not unheard of, especially in a case in which the corpse was near a wooded area and thus exposed to wildlife for many weeks.

“Where there has been decomposition of the body, it can sometimes be tricky to find out the cause of death,” he said.

One factor working in favor of determining the cause of death, Baden pointed out, is that the body was outdoors during many wintry days when temperatures were freezing, thus inhibiting decomposition.

JOE MAHONEY is a staff writer for The Daily Star. Contact