MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - The discussion of the Master Plan for the Watchung Reservation is expected to continue at tonight’s Union County Freeholder meeting following Tuesday’s public meeting on the subject at the Trailside Museum in the Watchung Reservation. During the meeting that was filled to capacity, the commentary was mostly negative because of concerns about the some of the proposed changes including the addition of mountain bike trails.
Beth Little of Summit wanted to know “What happens next? When is the decision being made?”
Bruce Bergen, Chair of the Board of Chosen Freeholders addressed the crowd that was becoming raucous. “The Freeholders care what you say. What you say tonight will be listened to. I apologize if it looks like we did this surreptitiously, the word did get out. Three hundred of you are here tonight.”
The last comment of the evening was from Michael Kane of West End Avenue in Summit. He relayed his daughter Emily’s comments. She is a member of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) bike team, the CMS (Chatham Madison Summit) Trailblazers. This team is made up of student athletes who use these trails to train. Kane said, “The proximity of Watchung to many surrounding communities could increase biking in kids and that would be good.”
Procedurally the Freeholders can take comments at any meeting during the public comment section of the meeting. It is not clear when the Master Plan will be voted on. The next step is to receive and study the Engineering report. Kevin Campbell Assistant County Counsel for Union County informed the crowd that a decision to designate bike trails can be made by the County Manager but that he works closely with the Freeholders and any decision would be made jointly. After the engineering report is digested, the Master plan which can be modified will eventually be voted on by the Freeholders. It will then be enacted by ordinance of the Freeholders.