Ryan C. Long Bridge at Bender Melon Farm

June 5, 2024

Renovations on the old farm bridge at Bender Melon Farm are complete! The bridge is now open to the public, allowing access to the brand-new trail system on the northern portion of the preserve. MHLC is deeply grateful to the Long family of Slingerlands, who generously supported the bridge renovation project in memory of their son, Ryan. Their act of kindness and remembrance is a testament to the strong community spirit that we cherish. A plaque commemorating Ryan C. Long's life can be viewed at the bridge entrance (shown below) and a formal dedication ceremony will be held on September 27, 2024. (More details will be shared soon.)

More About Ryan


Ryan Crannell Long grew up in Bethlehem and attended Slingerlands Elementary School before attending middle school and high school at LaSalle Institute. Ryan graduated as the class salutatorian from LaSalle in 2008, where he participated in cross country, winter, and spring track during his high school years. Ryan was an active member of the Delmar Dolphins Swim Team throughout his youth. Ryan graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University with honors as a double major in Political Science and History. He received his M.A. in American Politics from Georgetown University before working on numerous federal and state political campaigns in Washington D.C., PA, and N.Y. Before his final job with the New York City Public Advocate, he worked for several political consulting firms in NYC, namely Berger Hirschberg Strategies and Mercury Public Affairs. 

Ryan was always a top student who worked hard and strived to do his best at whatever activity he was doing. Much more indicative of his personality was how he interacted with others with sensitivity, kindness, and respect. From his school days on the playground to his professional interactions, Ryan always identified the talent and good qualities in the overlooked and underappreciated people in his company as a way to bring them into the fold, help them to be recognized, and make them welcomed and valued member of the group.  Not with a lot of words, but through his consistent actions, unwavering loyalty, and ability to listen, he made solid and lasting friendships during his brief life. His intelligence, quick wit, and relatively smart and dry sense of humor made being in his company a joy for many.

Ryan’s approach to life and passion for learning extended to familiarizing himself with his physical surroundings as much as possible through exploration. An important part of his approach to everyday life was physically interacting and exploring the environment around him, whether it was Boston, Washington D.C., NYC, or, throughout his life, the surrounding areas of Bethlehem. To pursue this passion required public access to those surroundings. During Covid living in Delmar it was Ryan that planned the many hikes for the family all over our area.

Restoring this bridge in Ryan’s memory to connect the beautiful hiking trails of Bender Melon Farm Preserve and the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail is the perfect way for his family to honor Ryan’s memory within the community where he grew up. It will allow thousands of residents to enjoy the beauty of Melon Farm and adjoining hiking and bike trails for many years to come. His family could not be prouder of his legacy and what this bridge will do for our community. If he was still with us, this is a resource he would avail himself of whenever he was back in town.