Union County News

Debate Over Bike Trails in Watchung Reservation Continue at Union County Freeholders Meeting

03abc9a68adf34ac2bf4_ba2fb5dca500782ee4e0_IMG_6980.JPG
Thomas Manna Jr. claims mountain biking is dangerous and damaging to local communities Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
03abc9a68adf34ac2bf4_ba2fb5dca500782ee4e0_IMG_6980.JPG

ELIZABETH, NJ — Debate about the possible addition of trails for mountain biking in Watchung Reservation continued at Thursday night’s Union County Freeholders meeting. The county had asked for input regarding the trails in February, which sparked an outpouring of people into the subsequent board meetings.

A resolution regarding mountain biking had appeared on the agenda for the Freeholders meeting on April 13, but was removed from the agenda for the rescheduled meeting on April 20. Nevertheless, mountain biking was the major topic on the crowd’s mind as more than 10 Union County residents spoke before the board. 

“The common goal that we all share is a healthy, sustainable trail network and ecosystem at Watchung Reservation,” Jamie Meiselman, a Westfield resident and co-leader of the Union County Chapter of the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association (JORBA.org), said. “This goal can be better achieved by embracing the contributions of the local mountain bike community, not by excluding it.”

Sign Up for E-News

Meiselman proposed a meeting for stakeholders invested in this issue and asked for the Freeholders to facilitate such a meeting. He also proposed a refined version of the Watchung Reservation map that he feels would result in an increase of wildlife while still allowing bike trails.

However, many voices in the room were staunchly opposed to the addition of a bike trail at all.

“This is a quality of life and safety issue that, if approved, will negatively affect every Union County resident,” Thomas Manna Jr., a Mountainside resident, said. “Mountain biking is a dangerous and destructive activity that causes serious injury to people, plants and wildlife.”

Arguments made about environmental concerns, safety and biking trails in nearby counties were raised by both pro and anti-mountain biking activists during the meeting. 

None of the Freeholders responded to comments regarding the biking concerns, but according to Sebastian D’Elia, director of communications for the county, there is no current timeline in place for a proposed resolution. This process could continue for weeks, he said.

Apart from the mountain biking concerns, two county residents voiced anger and suspicion regarding the board’s approval of resolutions 2017-296 and 2017-297, which award service contracts to T&M Associates of Middletown, NJ, and Maser Consulting, PA, of Red Bank, NJ, respectively.

“I don’t think there’s a law firm that has ever gotten a contract from this board that has not made contributions,” John Berry, a Kenilworth resident, said. “So that is a definite criteria for choosing these people.”

His concerns were echoed by Bruce Paterson of Garwood, who also accused the Freeholders of awarding contracts based on unethical means.

“I will just say that the county of Union strictly complies with the rules on all of our contracts,” Chairman Bruce H. Bergen said.

Following public commentary, the Freeholders entered into an executive session to discuss “Attorney-client privileged communications and discussions relative to potential legislation, possible violations of law and potential contract negotiations with CME relative to issues relating to the Trail Master Plan,” and “Attorney-client privileged communications and discussion relative to on-going contract negotiations with CWA,” according to the meeting agenda.

The next Union County Freeholders meeting will be an agenda setting session on April 27 at 7 p.m.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Cranford

Three School Buses Involved in Crash at Clark's ALJ High School

June 21, 2018

CLARK, NJ — Three buses collided in the Arthur L. Johnson High School parking lot around noon on Thursday in a chain-reaction crash. 

Students were on board at the time, according to Police Chief Pedro Matos. One driver and two students had minor injuries, Matos said.   

According to a Honeywell alert issued by the Clark Public School District, ...

2018 Cranford High School Graduation

June 22, 2018

CRANFORD - It was a beautiful day as the members of the Cranford High School Class of 2018 took their places on Memorial Field for the Graduation Ceremony on Thursday night. 

Class President Anna Kalafatis, Principal Mark Cantagallo, Superintendent Dr. Scott Rubin, Board of Education President Kurt Petschow, Jr., Salutatorian Emily Wilson, and Valedictorian Meg Cui each ...

Cranford High Senior Prom

CRANFORD - Cranford High School held its Senior Prom on Friday at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany. Check out the photos our readers submitted. 

Spring Art Show Displays Students' Creativity

CRANFORD - The Cranford High School Spring Art Show was held at the Cranford Public Library, on Tuesday. 

From 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., artwork from classes such as crafts, graphic design, photography, and drawing was on display for the public to promote the creative and unique projects done by students throughout the school year. 

Sports Betting Is Off And Running in New Jersey

June 14, 2018

OCEANPORT, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy officially ushered in sports betting in New Jersey when he made the initial wager at Monmouth Park  on June 14.

Governor Murphy, an avid soccer fan who has called ESPN’s “Sportscenter” his favorite show, placed the first bet  — $20 on Germany to win the World Cup. He also bet $20 on the N.J. Devils to ...

Register Today for Summer Youth Courses Offered at Union County College

June 22, 2018

CRANFORD – This summer the Office of Continuing Education at Union County College is expanding its course offerings for youth ages 11-18. Classes are taught by NJ-certified teachers and subject matter experts that specialize in delivering high-quality youth programs. Classes begin the week of June 25 and run through August 23.

Classes offered include Introduction to Musical Theater, ...

Healthy U Spring Symposium Marks 10 Years of Community Impact

WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 Healthy U champions and partners from YMCAs and schools from all over the state gathered at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 18 to celebrate 10 years of community impact. Healthy U was also formally presented with the 2017 CATCH® Award for Excellence in State Health. 

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is the ...

Summer Water Safety Tips

Summer is a great time for parents to ensure their children are equipped with essential water safety skills. The Westfield Area YMCA offers weekly swim lessons all summer long and in Monday-Thursday weekly sessions.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 5-14. Remember these tips to ensure the water is an enjoyable and safe place to ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Between Park Street and Washington Street, Westfield

Walking Tour: What Makes a Great House and ...

Home & Garden

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

'Half Time' lights up Paper Mill stage

‘Half Time’ turns the tables on aging in gleeful production

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...