RANDOLPH, NJ - After walking all 16 miles of Randolph trails, the Trails Advisory Committee and their consultants, Greener by Design, presented the Trails Master Plan with suggestions for maintenance of current trails, as well as trailblazing paths from many of Randolph’s neighborhoods. The new plan contains 22 new trail segments resulting in 29 miles of trails throughout the township.
Council members and Recreation staff agreed that the members of the Trails Advisory Committee were extremely dedicated and involved in the process. Greener by Design consultant, Ben Spinelli, commented that the residents who use the trails “don’t just like the trail system, they love the trail system.”
Throughout the research process, the public responded far above the expected rate, allowing for better planning.
“We had a public meeting where we were hoping to have maybe 15 to 20 people show up, but we had well over 100 people,” said committee chair Phil Sheehy. “We had a survey which we put out, which once again we were expecting 70, 80 people responding… but 450 responded.”
Residents asked for more miles of trails, better trail markers and better trail surfaces. Spinelli added that washouts have been identified and are being repaired, but “surfaces are well-maintained, the trailways were clear, and no litter, no garbage.”
Spinelli mentioned that much of the public interest came from Randolph High School students who run on the trails every day. He also met with local municipalities such as Roxbury, Chester and Mendham to discuss linking the various trail systems already in place.
“As much as your residents would love to link out to [the Roxbury, Chester and Mendham trails], they would love to be linked into your system,” he said.
Residents plan to use the trails for many different purposes. “They want to be able to use it to hike, to bike; they want to be able to push strollers… This is not your traditional hiking trail system. This is a multi-use system that provides a broad spectrum of activities,” Spinelli said.
Of the 22 suggested new trails, the committee prioritized 10 segments for the council’s focus in financial planning. One top priority is the connection to the West Morris Greenway, which would be one of the most ambitious new trails.
The master plan provides a strategy for maintenance and upkeep of existing trails, as well as potential improvements for those trails with signage. Councilman Mark Forstenhausler mentioned that signage would greatly help first responders during an emergency on the trails.
Councilwoman Joanne Veech asked how the expansions to the trails would affect the existing staff, and Spinelli believes that a volunteer network could adopt different portions of the trails to help with minor maintenance.
However, Greener by Design supplied the council members with an excel file indicating the cost of every suggested trail addition, including the cost of staffing and maintenance. “We were able to include patching, clearing brush, repaving,” Spinelli said. The current trails are in great condition, according to the consultant, but the council should plan ahead for any large maintenance projects.
The Trails Advisory Committee is currently a temporary committee. But the township council already voted to create a permanent committee consisting of 5 members from the public, one member from the Parks Committee and one council member.