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Runners, equestrians want to work together when using trails at Goddard Park

Runners and equestrians want answers from the state of Rhode Island about use of the trails at Goddard Park, as cross country teams claim they’re not wanted in the park because of safety concerns between runners and horses. (WJAR)

Runners and equestrians want answers from the state of Rhode Island about use of the trails at Goddard Park.

Cross country teams claim they’re not wanted in the park because of safety concerns between runners and horses.

Laurie Tuozzolo has been riding the trails at the park since she was 18. She said it's her spot to get away.

"It means relaxation, a great place to go with my horse, to have him relax, too. Ride down to the water. Enjoy nature at its best and that’s what Goddard Park is," Tuozzolo said.

Tuozzolo wants to make sure equestrians can still enjoy the park’s trail, but she’s concerned after she saw a petition circulating by a father of a high school cross country runner. It states that the staff at Goddard Park has harassed runners, parents and coaches since 2015 and that runners aren’t allowed to practice in the park due to “increasing conflict between runners and horses.”

The petition goes on to state that in July, a cross country coach was issued a $2,100 citation from the Department of Environmental Management because the girls on his team were training on the park’s trails without a permit.

"If they need a permit for a large group of runners, they need to pull that permit and they need to work out a time that’s safe, maybe before the stable opens or after the stable closes to run there," Tuozzolo said.

But Tuozzolo and runners agree -- it shouldn’t be us against them.

"The fact that they’re outside getting exercise is awesome. We just want to ensure that we will still have that privilege and that everybody abides by the rules to make it safe for everyone," Tuozzolo said. "I think there’s a way for all of us to enjoy it."

In a statement, DEM spokeswoman, Emily Lynch, said, "We cannot comment in depth on this particular matter given active litigation, but please know that we are working to address the concerns of all stakeholders. "

Lynch said recently Goddard Park hosted 5,100 high school cross country runners. In the coming weeks, the park will host 3,000 runners and numerous high school meets.

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