To the Editor:
Reflecting on the overwhelming negative feedback on March 7, 2017, at a Union County open meeting to permit mountain biking within the Watchung Reservation, as well as the negative comments at the March 9, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting, this feedback would suggest that serious consideration be given to the following:
According to the 49 Union County recreational sites listed under the Union County Freeholders supervision, 47 are listed as parks: with one as a golf course and 8 approved for biking; and only one a reservation, which is Watchung Reservation. The English Dictionary defines a “reservation” as “holding the right to utilize property or withhold the use for a specific purpose." The established use of Watchung Reservation is known and recognized as an atrium sheltering the use of its habitat for plants, trees, birds, and wildlife.
Watchung Reservation is bordered by residences in five communities: Summit, Berkley Heights, Scotch Plains, Mountainside, and Springfield. At both public meetings, I do not recall hearing anyone from those five communities commenting favorably about introducing mountain biking. The mayors of each of those five towns should be informed and contacted for their input on behalf of their adversely affected residents.
It was reported at the March 9, 2017, County Freeholders meeting that there is currently a $55 million balance in their reserves. Certainly, their constituents could recommend a much more beneficial use for those funds such as reducing our taxes than devastating a widely recognized Union County passive-use treasure, than introducing the purposefully destructive development, construction and unsupervised use of 13.5 miles of mountain biking trails.
Please do not repeat the same kind of tragedy the Union County Freeholders did apparently two years ago by approving the construction of a football stadium, extensive bleacher seating, fencing, accessory buildings and lighting within the center of Historic Scenic Rahway River Park. The majority of the Rahway’s local residents were in opposition to the project’s chosen location.
Frank W. Kraus