Union County News

Debate Over Bike Trails in Watchung Reservation Continue at Union County Freeholders Meeting

Thomas Manna Jr. claims mountain biking is dangerous and damaging to local communities Credits: Leah Scalzadonna

ELIZABETH, NJ — Debate about the possible addition of trails for mountain biking in Watchung Reservation continued at Thursday night’s Union County Freeholders meeting. The county had asked for input regarding the trails in February, which sparked an outpouring of people into the subsequent board meetings.

A resolution regarding mountain biking had appeared on the agenda for the Freeholders meeting on April 13, but was removed from the agenda for the rescheduled meeting on April 20. Nevertheless, mountain biking was the major topic on the crowd’s mind as more than 10 Union County residents spoke before the board. 

“The common goal that we all share is a healthy, sustainable trail network and ecosystem at Watchung Reservation,” Jamie Meiselman, a Westfield resident and co-leader of the Union County Chapter of the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association (JORBA.org), said. “This goal can be better achieved by embracing the contributions of the local mountain bike community, not by excluding it.”

Sign Up for E-News

Meiselman proposed a meeting for stakeholders invested in this issue and asked for the Freeholders to facilitate such a meeting. He also proposed a refined version of the Watchung Reservation map that he feels would result in an increase of wildlife while still allowing bike trails.

However, many voices in the room were staunchly opposed to the addition of a bike trail at all.

“This is a quality of life and safety issue that, if approved, will negatively affect every Union County resident,” Thomas Manna Jr., a Mountainside resident, said. “Mountain biking is a dangerous and destructive activity that causes serious injury to people, plants and wildlife.”

Arguments made about environmental concerns, safety and biking trails in nearby counties were raised by both pro and anti-mountain biking activists during the meeting. 

None of the Freeholders responded to comments regarding the biking concerns, but according to Sebastian D’Elia, director of communications for the county, there is no current timeline in place for a proposed resolution. This process could continue for weeks, he said.

Apart from the mountain biking concerns, two county residents voiced anger and suspicion regarding the board’s approval of resolutions 2017-296 and 2017-297, which award service contracts to T&M Associates of Middletown, NJ, and Maser Consulting, PA, of Red Bank, NJ, respectively.

“I don’t think there’s a law firm that has ever gotten a contract from this board that has not made contributions,” John Berry, a Kenilworth resident, said. “So that is a definite criteria for choosing these people.”

His concerns were echoed by Bruce Paterson of Garwood, who also accused the Freeholders of awarding contracts based on unethical means.

“I will just say that the county of Union strictly complies with the rules on all of our contracts,” Chairman Bruce H. Bergen said.

Following public commentary, the Freeholders entered into an executive session to discuss “Attorney-client privileged communications and discussions relative to potential legislation, possible violations of law and potential contract negotiations with CME relative to issues relating to the Trail Master Plan,” and “Attorney-client privileged communications and discussion relative to on-going contract negotiations with CWA,” according to the meeting agenda.

The next Union County Freeholders meeting will be an agenda setting session on April 27 at 7 p.m.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Roselle/Roselle Park

Roselle Chamber of Commerce to Host Women’s History Month Event

March 19, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - It will be an evening of honoring the trailblazing women leaders in business at the Roselle Chamber of Commerce event honor of Women’s History Month.

Joetta Clark Diggs, New Jersey’s four-time Olympian, Motivational Speaker, Author, and Businesswoman will be the featured guest speaker.

The event is free and will be held on Thursday, March 22 at the ...

Free Citizenship Workshop to be Held This Saturday in Elizabeth

ELIZABETH, NJ - A free Citizenship Workshop will be held this Saturday, March 24, at the Santa Isabel Lutheran Church from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. located at 908 East Jersey Street in Elizabeth.

The Citizenship Drive is an annual event that assists eligible residents to apply for naturalization. Immigration attorneys will be present to screen eligibility and trained volunteers will assist in the ...

Wastewater Sewerage Authority Looking for Treatment Plant Operator

LINDEN/ROSELLE, NJ - The Linden/Roselle Sewerage Authority is seeking to fill a position for a Wastewater Sewerage Treatment Plant Operator.  

This is a full-time position that entails shift work, 7 days a week. Candidate must have a High School diploma or obtained equivalency; possession of a valid S-1 New Jersey Wastewater Operators License is preferred but not ...

Teacher Training at Trailside

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ  - Teacher Training programs at Trailside will be offered this spring for teachers of students in Kindergarten through grade twelve starting March 15.

Project WET, a teacher training program for teachers K – 12 will be offered on Thurs. March 15 from 9 a.m.. to 3 p.m.  This workshop will provide the necessary tools, resources, and lessons for teachers ...

Daylight Savings Time Begins this Weekend - Remember to Turn Your Clocks Forward

ROSELLE/ROSELLE PARK, NJ - The winter months are about to come to an end. You know spring is definitely around the corner when Daylight Savings Time begins. A reminder to everyone to turn your clocks forward one hour tonight when you go to bed. Daylight Savings time officially begins at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. 

While many will dread losing that hour of sleep, that extra hour of daylight ...

Union County Students to 'March for Our Lives' Saturday in Union

March 19, 2018

UNION, NJ – Students from all over Union County will be walking from Burnet Middle School to Town Hall on Saturday morning, March 24, in an anti-gun violence march.

Led by steering committee chairman Colin Sumner, the march, which has the support of Senator Joseph Cryan, Moms Demand Action, Union County Chapter, and the Union County Freeholders, is not aimed at taking away guns, but ...

Totowa Rapper Accused of Trying to Bring Loaded Gun Through Security at Newark Airport

March 12, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. – Rapper Juelz Santana, a resident of Totowa, faces weapon charges after allegedly trying to get a loaded firearm through security at Newark Liberty International Airport, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

The rapper, whose real name is LaRon L. James, 36, surrendered to police this morning. He has been charged with  one count of possession of a firearm by a ...

Union County Celebrates Arbor Day 2018 with Free Trees for Schools

March 20, 2018

In recognition of Arbor Day 2018, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is once again partnering with the Union County Shade Tree Advisory Board to sponsor the annual Arbor Day Tree Planting Program, which provides free trees for participating schools.

“The Arbor Day tree planting program is a Union County tradition that provides students with important hands-on lessons about the ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...