Since 2003, Ross Baldwin has been routing the hiking trails of Southampton. Using hand held GPS equipment, Baldwin, a manager in the town’s geographic information systems department, and a team of town employees spent their weekends mapping numerous scenic routes to a digital trail map which will be uploaded onto the town’s website in a month. Baldwin, an avid hiker, clocked over 120 miles since the beginning of the project.
“We included woods, roads and trails … On some of the trials you don’t even feel like you are on Long Island. You can’t hear the cars and there are beautiful views of the oceans,” remarked Baldwin. “There was definitely a push [by town residents] for this. There are a lot of tech savvy people here.”
The trails advisory committee and the Southampton “Green” committee helped create the comprehensive trail map and a town “green” map. Baldwin and members of these organizations presented templates of both to the town board at a work session last Friday, September 18.
The interactive trail guide logs around 283 miles of paths and roads. When the digital version is up and running, a hiker can click on a particular trail and learn the exact distance in feet. There is also a topography setting which allows users to gauge the inclines and declines of a route. Parking lots are displayed on the screen and residents can chose to show other important markers like airports. Baldwin added that the map could be beneficial for town employees. Specific trails can be blocked off with a grid to show that they are in need of maintenance, pointed out Baldwin.
“This is really our pride and joy. There are a few more bells and whistles that we eventually want to give the ‘green’ map,” said Baldwin at the work session.
The “green” map appeals to the eco-conscious resident or tourist. In order to navigate the map, a user clicks on a particular category and the results appear on the screen. For example, some one could search for farm stands which would then be marked with digital thumb tacks on the map. The user can move their mouse across the thumb tack to learn the name and address of the particular farm stand. The “green” map also features bike and bus routes, cell phone drop off points, recycling centers and windmill locations.
The two maps were presented to the board last Friday to generate ideas for improvement. As Baldwin said at the meeting, there are a few technological kinks to be fixed before the maps are accessible to the public. Baldwin believes both the trail and “green” map will be posted within the month.