Union County News

Union County Freeholders Vote Not to Approve Mountain Biking Trails in Watchung Reservation

Summit's Mayor Nora Radest asks the board for a compromise to be reached following an engineering study and environmental impact study. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
The board amended a previous resolution approving the Watchung Reservation Master Plan to reflect the board's disapproval of recommending and providing for mountain biking in the Watchung Reservation. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna

ELIZABETH, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted not to approve mountain biking trails proposed in the Watchung Reservation Master Plan at Thursday night’s meeting. The passing of Resolution 2017-412 effectively put an end to a months-long debate by county residents about the merits and hazards of creating mountain biking trails in the Watchung Reservation.

Forty-six people spoke before the board in an attempt to persuade a freeholder’s vote, with22 people speaking in favor of mountain biking and 24 people speaking against it. In compliance with fire safety codes, a 125-person limit was in place for the meeting. As people left the meeting, those waiting in the lobby came in to take their place.

“I don’t want anyone to think that we take what you say lightly,” Freeholder Linda Carter said. “We hear what you’re saying and we have to take a look at the total. Sometimes, in order to have a win-win, you have to take a step back.”

Sign Up for E-News

Those in favor of mountain bike trails frequently argued that the trails would have a minimal impact, would allow schools to create mountain biking teams and would bring in more county residents to the reservation, among other reasons. Those opposed often questioned how the trails would impact the environment, worried about the proposed trails’ proximity to their homes and the dangers of mountain biking, among other reasons.

The vote passed 5-3, with Freeholders Wright, Granados, Bergen, Kowalski and Carter voting “yes.” Freeholders Hudak, Estrada and Mirabella voted “no” and Freeholder Jallon abstaining.

Before the vote, Chairman Bruce H. Bergen gave an impassioned speech explaining his vote, stating that he believed the addition of mountain bike trails would harm the environment, the reservation itself and the county.

“We as a county are not doing enough to maintain the trails that already exist,” Bergen said. “For now, we must concentrate on maintenance, repair and, as appropriate, re-commissioning current trails. I disagree with the statement that the Watchung Reservation is under-utilized. I believe just the opposite.”

Fellow freeholders agreed that the reservation needs more maintenance and that an environmental impact study must be done before expanding trails inside the reservation. Freeholder Granados said that the current vote does not mean mountain biking cannot be put back on the agenda or that a compromise cannot be reached in the future.

The vote was met with jubilation by some, who cheered and congratulated one another and the board. Those who were in favor of mountain biking in the Watchung Reservation left quietly.

“You can’t be upset the teacher didn’t give you an ‘A’ because you didn’t do the book report yet,” Scotch Plains resident Eric Larnick said, using the analogy to explain why he believes the trails cannot be built without an environmental impact study being done beforehand. “The reservation is Union County’s last standing nature preserve. We have to put the work in.”

Mayor Nora Radest of Summit and Mayor Paul Mirabelli of Mountainside also spoke before the board, asking for a compromise to be reached between the differentiating parties.

“Surely, with a thoughtful discussion, a thorough engineering report and an environmental impact study, a compromise among all of these important constituencies will be possible,” Radest said.

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders will hold an agenda setting session and a regular meeting on May 25 at 7 p.m.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

New Providence

TAPinto New Providence Directory of Advertisers

TAPinto New Providence is locally owned and operated. We are able to provide you with original, objective and always FREE local reporting of New Providence news and events thanks to our advertisers. We encourage you to patronize our advertisers and tell them you saw their ad on TAPinto New Providence:

Adams Fine Clothing

Allegra and ...

Do you have a marketing plan? Let's Create One

July 13, 2017

In this weekly series, we will walk through the process of how to fit TAPinto into your marketing plan. 

Not only are we the premiere marketing platform for many businesses, we also are the source of getting the message out to our community for municipalities, organizations, schools and teams. We also are the source for promoting community ...

Dear Susan: Beauty Tips from a Beauty Expert

SUSAN BARBAGLIA, owner of Skin Deep Salon and Spa in New Providence, offers a wealth of knowledge and expertise as a leader in the beauty industry. With over thirty years experience in skin care, Susan can answer your most challenging beauty questions. Email your questions to advice@skindeepsalonspa.com.

 

__________

Dear Susan:  I love the ...

Congrats Union County Freeholders, you Made the TOP TEN

July 26, 2017

Dear Editor,

From 1970, when he first founded the American Top 40 franchise, thru 2009 radio music personality, Casey Kasem presided over, Casey’s Hot 40, Hot 20, Casey’s Countdown, American Top 40 and Top 20 and finally American Top 10. Kasem garnered a lifetime of financial security by compiling lists.

We American’s love our lists and relish the moment when our favorite ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_9b6d72bb10d15de52ffa_pilates-mat-pic

Thu, July 27, 8:00 AM

Providence! Health and Fitness, New Providence

Mat Pilates with Joan

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_7f6c107703df2d416aa6_barre_intesity

Thu, July 27, 9:15 AM

Providence! Health and Fitness, New Providence

Barre Intensity with Kathy

Health & Wellness

Thu, July 27, 9:15 AM

The Connection, Summit

Barre Sculpt

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_13ae2e6e57314f51d9b9_27d13b0f25974e4061b9_yoga_at_the_bhcp

Thu, July 27, 9:30 AM

Berkeley Heights Community Pool, Berkeley Heights

Yoga & Meditation at the BHCP at the YMCA!

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_107da84439934a15516b_woman_yogi

Thu, July 27, 10:30 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Hatha Yoga Flow

Health & Wellness

Karate Program for People with Special Needs

July 26, 2017

UNION COUNTY, NJ - A Karate Program for People with Special Needs will begin on Thursday, August 3.

The program will run every Thursday from August 3 - September 7 (excluding August 17) from 7:00 - 7:45 p.m. (ages 5-15) and 8:00 - 8:45 p.m. (ages 16 and older).  The program will take place at the Clark Recreation Center, 430 Westfield Avenue, Clark.  Registration ...

Union County College Foundation’s 2nd Annual “Close the Gap” Campaign Surpasses Goal

CRANFORD – With over 100 guests and volunteers in attendance, the Union County College Foundation surpassed their goal and raised nearly $40,000 at their 2nd Annual Close the Gap Campaign cocktail reception. Held last week in the Richel Student Commons at the College’s Cranford campus, this campaign was developed by a small group of dedicated community volunteers to support the ...

CDC Theatre Seeking Director Submissions for its 100th Season

CDC Theatre in Cranford NJ is New Jersey’s longest continuously producing community theatre and we are looking for Director’s submissions for our 2018-1019, which will be the theatre’s 100th. 

We will consider directors within a broad range of experience and are looking for people who will bring their enthusiasm to our theatre and the community. Our season runs from ...

New Providence Pioneers Host Heights Heat in 10U Softball Championship, Tuesday, July 25

New Providence Pioneers (9-1) will host the Heights Heat (9-1) in the 10U Softball Parkway League championship Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Allen W. Roberts Elementary School located at 80 Jones Drive, New Providence.

Come out to see neighboring rivals battle it out for the championship. 

 

Diana Miller, a New Providence Resident, Joins Imagine Board of Trustees

Diana Miller, a CPA with over 18 years of experience in public accounting, has joined the Board of Trustees at Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss.  Diana possesses significant not-for-profit and governmental auditing experience with associations, foundations, churches, healthcare entities, private schools, school districts, colleges and universities, municipalities and counties. In ...

Summit Y Youth Help out Imagine in Mountainside

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - Imagine thanks the fine and awesome Summit Area YMCA teens pictured above for volunteering at Imagine on a hot July day to help with the start of a new memory garden at the Imagine center in Mountainside.

They prepared a more than 60' stretch of land for planting and also helped make greeting cards and attended an Imagine workshop.

“I learned a lot of ...

Tell Me a Little Bit About Yourself

 

Are college interviews still a thing?  Why yes, yes they are.  While some colleges have shied away from the practice due to the sheer volume of applicants the encounter each year many will still grant them to the inquiring student.  Remember how we talked about demonstrating interest last month?  An interview is an amazing way to make a very personal plea to a ...

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Recently my dad showed me a plaque he had been awarded from his alma mater.  He graduated from a well-respected University in the Midwest after WWII.  It was where he met my mom.  

 

He is 90 now.

 

The honorific award was for his participation in the University’s “Hall of Fame” football team of 1948, on which, as I had been informed many ...

Chatham Man Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Firearm Use in Susan Drive 'Shots Fired' Incident

July 26, 2017

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Sergey Radushinskiy, 69, a resident of Chatham Township, pled guilty Monday in Morris County Superior Court to the unlawful possession of a loaded rifle on a public street, according to a published report in the Daily Record.

Radushinskiy had been taken into custody last January after Chatham Township Police Officer Sean Lampf responded to a 9-1-1 call of shots ...