ROXBURY, NJ – A proposed trail that would connect Roxbury’s Orben Park to Lake Hopatcong would be a “poster child” for a federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant, said Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd.
Dubbed the “Shippenport Greenway Proposal,” the trail would go about two miles and would encompass sections of the Morris Canal towpath, sidewalks and woodsy walkways.The township Mayor and Council agreed Tuesday to solicit proposals from experts who will review the trail idea and provide a cost estimate, something essential before the township can seek grants to fund the project.
“Our initial feeling … this is the poster child for TAP,” Shepherd told the council, noting the goal of the TAP program is to help fund projects that encourage getting around without using motor vehicles.
Shepherd said the Shippenport Greenway, as envisioned, would do that. It would include NJ Transit bus and train stations as well as a proposed Lake Hopatcong water taxi access in Landing.
“We’re talking about a project that includes walking, potential biking, train access, bus access and water taxi,” he said. “We think we cover it all, other than automobiles, which is what they are trying to get away from with that grant program.”
“The concept is to connect township parks along the Morris Canal with the new improvements at Landing, including the new (Landing Road) bridge, the lakefront on Hopatcong State Park and the waterway in landing,” said Bob Canace, a trails planning expert who works with the township.
The pathway, as envisioned would include access to Landing Gateway Park, the restored former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad station, a number of Morris Canal towpath sections and remnants and the Landing Park softball complex.
“So it’s an attempt to connect open space, historic sites, transportation modes and using the Morris Canal as the core spine of the greenway,” Canace said. “It’s kind of an exciting project, the idea being the N.J. Transit station being the hub and the lake being a critical element. Plus, you’ve got the new Lake Hopatcong Trail going all the way around Lake Hopatcong, so it’s part of a regional greenway trail concept.”
Shepherd acknowledged that the trail will likely be a complicated, and possibly costly, venture. “We are talking about doing a project from Orben all the way to Lake Hopatcong,” he said. “It’s really a big project. There are multiple properties involved, public right-of-ways involved, the Hopatcong train station involved and there’s lake access we’re interested in. We realize it’s going to be expensive to do. We’re looking for grant money to do that.”
Members of the Mayor and Council were cautiously supportive but wanted to see a more detailed map. “I gotta tell you, from recent discussions we’ve had around the approach to the new (Landing Road) bridge and how tight that space is, having a way for people on bicycles or people walking to get from our park to the lake – a way that’s away from the road - is absolutely essential,” said Roxbury Councilman Bob DeFillippo. “We are trying to design that new bridge and the surrounding area with the ability to have more people using less cars.”