I own 40 acres in upstate NY. It has been in my family since 1880 and has a deeded ROW. In the past we have mostly used this property as a "camp", although when I was a youth we spent our entire summers in the old farmhouse. I am finally at a point in my life where I want to spend more time up there. Over the years, the old road has deteriorated, so I have had contractors giving me prices on repairs to the ROW. There is a spot about 1/2 way up the driveway where the landowners have created a trail for their 4-wheelers. When they did this, they filled in the ditch, which has caused a huge drainage issue. The water is now diverted to the road itself and created a mess. This 4-wheel trail was built between 5 and 7 years ago. Contractors have told me the only way to fix it without remaking the ditch is to put a culvert under the road, which would be diverting water onto their property, which I understand is illegal.
As with most of the people on this site, my neighbors are not real neighborly. They don't like the idea that I want to conduct a timber sale and possibly build (two additional issues that will have to be resolved).
I know that I need to discuss this with them, but I'm looking for some advice before hand.
Did they have a right to fill in the ditch? Since I didn't confront them 7 years ago when it happened, am I stuck with it? Are they responsible for helping me fix the road now that their trail has caused so much damage? Do I have a right to re-dig my ditch? If so, what stops them from filling it in again?