Green

VIDEO: Hikers Meet Mountain Bikers in Public Comment at Union County Freeholders Meeting on March 23

a1ad152a824c5633a268_IMG_4592.JPG
Credits: Jennifer Popper
4f3ba146fa92dc1680f8_4569_a.JPG
Credits: Jennifer Popper
401d09e1091132e340ba_4572_a.JPG
Credits: Jennifer Popper
244056aa936515d7cbdd_4574_a.JPG
Credits: Jennifer Popper
7d29f4cae17a26031536_IMG_4573.JPG
Credits: Jennifer Popper
2cc5b542e288edf7c96b_IMG_4582.JPG
Credits: Jennifer Popper
6c5e77703cb5d04bb639_IMG_4583.JPG
Barbara Krause of Cranford, not in favor of the mountain bike trails. Credits: Jennifer Popper
989f09d659f7b11ba4be_IMG_4586.JPG
Credits: Jennifer Popper
06f1b3409bf9fa6912c0_IMG_4588.JPG
Credits: Jennifer Popper
afd354c651869c4cec22_Thomas_Dunn.JPG
Thomas Dunn of Cranford, Owner of Hilltop Bicycles Credits: Jennifer Popper
c0b337c48c3e977cd8bb_Tom_Gokhale.JPG
Tom Gockel Credits: Jennifer Popper
e5ba6fc4299bcac89b70_William_Toth.JPG
William Toth of Plainfield speaks out against building mountain bike trails. Credits: Jennifer Popper
a1ad152a824c5633a268_IMG_4592.JPG

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Freeholders regular meeting on March 23rd attracted a large crowd who were there to comment on the county’s plan to allow mountain bikes in Watchung Reservation.

Chairman Bruce Bergen gave a short statement before allowing anyone to speak, indicating that in February 2016, the board had adopted a Trails Master Planpdf to bring up to seven miles of dual use trails to the reservation.  After review, the dual use trail option was discarded, and in December 2016 a revised map had been created but not adopted.

Bergen stressed that before going forward with any plans, in the interest of transparency, there would be a vote by the Freeholders, in public, for all to see.  

Sign Up for E-News

Tom Gockel, a CPA who lives in Westfield, spoke first in public comment about Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association, or JORBA, a 501(c)(3) that carries insurance.  Its mission, according to the website, is to “build and maintain sustainable multi-use trails, organize and encourage volunteerism and responsibility, and advocate and foster mountain biking as a healthy, environmentally sound, and sustainable activity.”

Holly Hoffman of Plainfield spoke next.  She is a former Director at the Trailside Center at Watchung Reservation, and her concerns centered on a biker who went over a ledge near the Deserted Village and had to be airlifted to a hospital, as well as the disruption to invasive seeds, nesting birds and young mammals from bike use.

William Toth, a member of Plainfield’s Planning Board for over fifteen years, ticked off a list of mountain bike accidents, and noted that the county, and ultimately taxpayers, could be responsible for damages.  As he went to sit, you could hear someone speak loudly, “That’s fear mongering!”

Charles Weltner, of Plainfield, spoke to information he received through his OPRA request.

 

Nancy Piwowar, also of Plainfield and local historian, stated, “I’m here to advocate for the reservation.”

Summit’s Paul Starker posed three questions to the Freeholders:

  1. Have first responders who will be responsible been told?
  2. How will they navigate the difficult terrain?
  3. Do they have the equipment and resources to perform rescues safely?

Andrew Stillufsen of Westfield then countered, asking why there would be high school mountain biking leagues if the sport was so unsafe.  And Eric Moberg of Summit pointed out that trails would not be much wider than a set of handlebars.

Jamie Meiselman, co-leader of the Union County Chapter of the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association (JORBA) spoke, but as he hit his time limit, he had to hand his speech to Bob Miller of Cranford to finish.

 

 

Thomas Dunn, also of Cranford, cited sales statistics from Hilltop Bicycles, his store in Summit.  He said that fifty-six percent of his store’s sales are from mountain bikes, and of those purchases, three in four are for children ages 6 to 17.

Dunn stressed that the trails in question would not be destination trails to which people would flock, and that usage, usually around an hour and a half ride, would be spread across day parts.

Freeholder Christopher Hudak, up for re-election this November, reiterated that all sides agree the trails need better maintenance, and that this should be incorporated into the Master Plan.  However, stating that “change is important” for the park system in order for it to remain vibrant, he noted the 2,200 acres could be shared.

Many residents of Plainfield were in attendance, including Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp’s re-election campaign manager, Jim Spear, who reached out to TAPinto Plainfield via email after the meeting.

“I must say, Freeholder Hudak’s statements at the end of the Freeholder meeting disheartened me.  He continually referred to the Reservation as a Park.  As if it was a baseball park or an amusement park, and not the reservation preserve as its founders intended.  And he justified his position in favor of the mountain biking by saying that the opponents of it are ‘scared of change’.  He pretty much indicated they would get over it.

“What Freeholder Hudak fails to recognize is that his predecessors, who were also dedicated public servants like himself, had the vision to preserve this delicate forest for generations to come.  And that they created other public parks for the kind of intense usage that he defends.  During his time as our elected official he is a steward of this land and it is his responsibility to protect it.   

“In 1995 the Parks department and the Freeholder Board stopped the trial period for mountain biking in the reservation after it was determined that the activity was doing irreversible harm.  Mr. Hudak does a disservice to his constituents, many of whom are in Plainfield and are against this proposal, when he discredits these findings by his predecessors.  His argument is that the ‘technology has changed’.  That left me bewildered as the technology of the forest certainly has not changed, and the improvements to mountain bikes has only led to more destruction of the land with faster bikes and wider tires. 

“I plan to extend an invitation to Mr. Hudak to come join some of his constituents for a walk in the reservation so he can get a true feeling of what really is at stake.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_cf52296cc36dd5e70d9f_aunt_bertha

Fri, June 22, 9:30 AM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Health Plainfield Aunt Bertha Demonstration

Carousel_image_9f83f68274e587851440_volunteering_6_22

Fri, June 22, 2:30 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Volunteering

Carousel_image_26acfa8d783bf5d09f61_petra_6_22_library

Fri, June 22, 3:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Petra's Musical Zoo

Reminder: Eligible Seniors Can Receive $25 in Free Vouchers for Farmer’s Markets, Starting June 25

June 21, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds income-eligible senior residents age 60 and over that they can apply for a total of $25 in free vouchers to purchase fresh produce. The vouchers may be used only at Farmer’s Markets in Union County that display a yellow and black WIC sign.

“Farmer’s Markets are a feature of community life throughout Union County in the ...

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 ...

North Plainfield Mom Maggie Grabko Gets Life-Saving Liver Transplant, Warren Fundraiser Set for Sunday

June 18, 2018

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ — Maggie Grabko, a North Plainfield mom of two, underwent a successful liver transplant on June 13, according to an update on the family’s GoFundMe page by her husband, Shawn Grabko. The Watchung Hills Elks are hosting a fundraiser, the Maggie Grabko Dinner and Music Fundraiser, at 1 Elks Trail in Warren on June ...

SRO'S - ENSEÑANDO POR EJEMPLO

June 17, 2018

Hay un grupo de oficiales de policía que les dan un servicio a nuestra comunidad de una manera notable. Todos los días estos hombres y mujeres se levantan, van al trabajo, y aseguran que nuestros hijos aprendan en un ambiente seguro. Los llamamos Oficiales de Recursos Escolares, pero son mucho más. 

Si llegas a la oficina de los Oficiales de Recursos Escolares en la ...

Empleando Nuestra Juventud 

Querido Plainfield, 

Todos esperan el verano; los días son más calientes y largos, y la madre tierra se pone su mejor vestido mientras las frutas se maduran en el sol y las flores ondean un alegre "hola". La gente comienzan los paseos de la playa o piscina, y las juntas de barbacoa en los patios son necesarios en los fines de semanas.

Aquí en la ciudad de ...

Meet Toran Smith: Union County All Star

June 18, 2018

Plainfield resident, Toran Smith, age 16, has been selected to play on the 2018 Union County underclassmen all star team.  On June 10th, the Union County All-Stars played against the Hudson County All-Stars at Kean University.  Smith played third baseman. 

Smith, a junior at Union County Vo-Tech magnet high school, is a Junior infielder on the Plainfield Cardinals Varsity ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...