NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ- Imagine the Hub City with more parks and open spaces along the Raritan River. Think about more bike routes and pedestrian walkways, bringing residents back to the water.
That was the vision shared last night, as the New Brunswick Environmental Commission presented a Public Access Plan at the Bloustein School of Rutgers University. Sara Malone and Karen Lowrie of the Environmental Analysis and Communications Group led the presentation of a sweeping plan to develop and increase public access points along the Raritan River.
Malone outlined 13 different public access points along the Raritan: D&R Canal State Park Trail, Buccleuch Park, the Route 18 Trench Bikeway, Deiner Park, Boyd Park, New Brunswick Landing, Rutgers Boathouse, Carpenters Lane , River Conservation Area (Middlesex County), Raritan Conservation Area (New Brunswick), Rutgers Village, Weston Mills Pond and Heylar Woods & Rutgers Gardens.
There needs to be more signage at the access points, as well as parking and easy access to the downtown.
She noted, for example, the Route 18 Trench Bikeway has no signs at the entrance to indicate the length of the trail nor does it have a sign to indicate there is no exit for more than a mile. Buccleuch Park is the nearest access to bathrooms and parking for the D&R Canal, and there are no curb cuts for the bike trails in the park.
This parks must be improved, Malone said, “for safety if nothing else.”
The group proposed that these access points are “missed opportunities” for both the City and Rutgers. Sites like Boyd Park and the New Brunswick Landing are underused and need to be advertised to the masses.
Other proposals were simple, such as improved lighting and maintaining the vegetation to prevent overgrowth and improve sightlines and visibility. Simple trash pickup could vastly improve the aesthetics, encouraging more foot traffic. Malone also noted that hours of operations were not even posted at all the access points.
The proposed Rutgers Master Plan for 2030 includes a bridge from the College Avenue campus over the river to Johnson Park – one key to encouraging more people to enjoy the amenity of living in a riverfont city.