WESTFIELD, NJ — Next steps in the development of mountain bike trails in Brightwood Park are not expected until 2021, as the town consults with the state to determine the project’s feasibility, municipal officials said.
The proposal, which has prompted residents’ opposition, would have volunteers from the Jersey Off Road Bicycling Association reroute existing trails in the 44-acre Green Acres park and designate a primary loop around a pond for hikers only.
“There’s a bunch of state related and DEP [Department of Environmental Protection] work and Green Acres work that’s needed to be done to make sure the project will be feasible,” said Recreation Commission member Brad Rothenberg. “It’s going to be tabled until the due diligence process is completed [to] make sure it’s a feasible project before we spend a lot of time debating whether it’s a good project to do or not.”
The debating, however, has already begun. The Friends of Brightwood Park have argued the project would negatively impact the park’s ecology and disturb the experience for birders and walkers by encouraging mountain biking. Proponents of the plan dispute this assertion.
Rothenberg said the proposed bike trails will not be on the agenda for this Monday’s recreation commission meeting.
Councilman Scott Katz, liaison to the recreation commission, said the state approval process is to ensure the mountain bike trails are created on proper land.
“We are filing an application with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to request a watershed land management pre-application meeting to assist the town in requesting a letter of interpretation for potential identification of any regulated areas such as wetlands, buffer zones and mapped habitats,” he said.
Katz said he did not know as to when the town would hear back from the DEP. Rothenberg estimated that the next steps would come by 2021, the soonest.
“Nothing is going to happen between now and the end of the year. Certainly, no trail will get done this year,” he said.
Town officials were hesitant to call it a delay.
“It’s a process we knew we would have to go forward with,” Katz said.
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