Union County News

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

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

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:

Sign Up for E-News

Elizabeth

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_98cd1e7a37f4d41bb554_28c29561af8de0977433_2017_asw_quijano_back_to_school_final

Wed, September 20, 5:30 PM

St. Joseph's Church, Elizabeth

2017 Annual Happy Hour Back to School Kick-Off, ...

Carousel_image_9f10dd006eb244d1d92d_3e17b24a26d5956a4b67_scarecrow_clipart

Sun, September 24, 11:00 AM

Trailside Nature and Science Center , Mountainside

36th Annual Harvest Festival at Trailside, Sept.

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_ff2dd2ca2a5d6a274cc0_citizenship_corner

Thu, September 28, 6:00 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Naturalization/Citizenship Information Session

Community Calendar Education

Elizabeth Offers Free Diabetes Workshop Series in Spanish

September 20, 2017

ELIZABETH, NJ – The Gateway Family YMCA and Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network is sponsoring free diabetes classes in Spanish as part of the Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) program.

Quality Insights collaborates with healthcare providers, patients and allied organizations across the network to bring about widespread, significant improvements in the quality of care they ...

Volunteer Opportunities Exist for 55+-RSVP Information Sessions

ELIZABETH, NJ-The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Union County will hold two information sessions for all adults 55 and older in Union County.

Opportunities exist throughout the county for volunteers in friendly visiting, community gardens and school-age tutoring and more.

The information sessions will take place at Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, a non-sectarian ...

Union County First To Take “Stand Up for the Other” Pledge

ELIZABETH, NJ-Union County is the first in New Jersey to take the “Stand Up for the Other” pledge. The pledge calls people to action and to challenge bigotry in all its forms.

Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen and the Freeholder Board announced that they welcomed Dr. Mohammad Ali Chaudry of the New Jersey Interfaith Coalition to share the "Stand Up for the ...

New Law in Effect Changes the Way New Jersey Residents Use Car Seats

TRENTON, NJ – New legislation went into effect September 1 that has changed the rules about using infant and child car seats in New Jersey.

The law went into effect September 1 and includes new regulations that require children under the age of two and 30 pounds must be in a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness.  Older children must remain in a booster seat until they are ...

Trinitas Regional Medical Center Unveils the New Gary S. Horan Emergency Department

ELIZABETH, NJ – In an opening ceremony held last evening at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, a brand new and expanded $18.7 million dollar Emergency Department was unveiled.

The new emergency department was named for Trinitas President and CEO Gary S. Horan to pay tribute to his decades of leadership in the healthcare field. FACHE, (Fellow of the American College ...

Union County Prosecutor Heads to PSEG, Isenhour Steps Into Position

ELIZABETH, NJ — After more than four years of service, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park is heading to work for PSEG, she announced recently. Appointed to take the position is Thomas K. Isenhour, a 33-year veteran of the office. He formerly served as first assistant prosecutor under Park.

“With over three decades of experience prosecuting defendants and supervising ...

Suspect Sought In Early Morning Carjacking In Elizabeth

September 20, 2017

ELIZABETH, NJ—Police are searching for the driver of vehicle after a shooting and carjacking earlier this morning in Elizabeth.

The suspect was reportedly driving a beige or light-colored Cadillac SUV, with a reported NJ license plate number X91-GSB. The suspect is wanted for shots fired at the scene that left another man suspected in the carjacking injured in the area of ...

Elizabeth Man Admits Distributing Child Pornography

September 18, 2017

ELIZABETH, N.J.– An Elizabeth man today admitted he used his home computer to distribute sexually explicit videos and images of children, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Thomas J. Leonard, 35, of Elizabeth, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Trenton federal court, charging him with one count of distributing child ...

Union County College Kicked Off Hispanic Heritage Month

September 20, 2017

CRANFORD – Union County College students, faculty and staff celebrated the Opening Ceremony for Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 14 at the College’s Cranford campus. Following the presentation of flags of Hispanic countries by Union’s students, Union County College President Margaret M. McMenamin offered a welcome and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Union County Freeholder ...

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

The Lost Girls by Heather Young (Harper Collins, 2016)

 

Heather Young, in her debut novel, The Lost Girls, has proven her talent as a word weaver. She acknowledges in the afterword that this book took her a long time to write, and as one reads the stunning prose, it is obvious that Young was focused on making every word count. The result of her labor is a magnificent, beautifully told ...

Sam Shepard's 'Simpatico' takes off

Sam Shepard’s “Simpatico” has a forceful workout at McCarter Theatre.

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, NJ – If you’re at all familiar with the works of Sam Shepard, you know that he writes about gritty, unforgiving characters in what appear to be hopeless situations.

In “Simpatico,” we learn that Vinnie and Carter are former partners in a race horse ...