LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston residents now have a new hiking trail to enjoy in the Township of Livingston located by the Livingston Senior/Community Center. The new Orchard Hill Trail, which was originally started as a boy-scout project, was officially opened on Monday with a celebratory ribbon cutting hosted by the mayor and council and the Livingston Environmental Commission (LEC).

The project was taken over by the Department of Public Works (DPW), which worked to enhance the space in order to provide residents with a safe place to enjoy nature. Gary Schwartz, chair of the LEC, explained that this property was originally purchased through the open space committee.

“It started out as a boy-scout project, but the majority of the work was completed by the public works department,” he said. “We could not have completed this project without their support.”

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This trail is currently open and safe for everyone, according to the DPW. The department made sure the trail was even and easy for all residents to walk on prior to the grand opening Monday. The DPW also created a natural guardrail out of rope and helped to line the trail with branches.

Another essential aspect of this project is the informational kiosks located at three different locations on the trail: one at the start of the trail near the community center, one near Heritage Middle School and a third on Hillside Avenue.

Currently, the kiosks contain a map of the trails and surrounding area, but Schwartz said the LEC plans to add additional information about the property in the future.

“We have plans to add additional information including information on the different tree and animal species in the area,” said Schwartz. “We just have not decided specifically yet. We also plan to involve the board of education as well.”

Schwartz said that once the project is completed, the LEC hopes that local teachers will be able to use this park to teach classes about the ecosystem.

Mayor Al Anthony said he is especially proud of the hard work put into this park because of his passion for preserving the environment.

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful project,” said Anthony. “As mayor and an environmentalist, it is truly an honor to be involved in this ribbon cutting. I am really happy residents have a place where they can preserve and enjoy the environment.”

Schwartz was honored by the mayor and council for his efforts in improving the lives of township residents by contributing to their health, safety and knowledge of the environment at a township council meeting Monday. (Click HERE for story.)