Trails Committee Adds New Trail To Inventory, Discusses Others

Trails Advisory Committee member Chuck Martin made a series of proposals for new trails at the Committee’s June 9 meeting.

A plan to add another series of trails covering township and Somerset County property to the township’s Pathways and Trails Plan was approved by the Trails Advisory Committee at its June 9 meeting.

The Committee also agreed to create a gravel parking lot on Bennett’s Lane for access to the Negri Nepote Grassland Preserve and trails, and to recognize an existing trail along Simonson Brook.

Under consideration by the Committee is teh creation of a cross-country track connecting Franklin High School to Middlebush Park.

All four ideas were proposed by Committee member Chuck Martin.

Martin said the proposal to create a series of trails at the township’s south end is complicated because it involves both township- and county owned land.

“I’m proposing to see if we could work with the County to create a system of trails through this incredibly wooded area down there,” Martin said.

The trails, he said, would have two entrances, with one trailhead located on Route 518, “probably the small parking lot on county property that is next to the recently acquired Culley Property.”

“Another trailhead would be on Old Georgetown Road,” Martin said. “That trailhead is the lot next to Councilman Chase’s house, and I have talked to Ted about this, he’s very enthusiastic about this idea.”

“That trailhead, if we go from that point, you could cross the road and then there’s another series of trails on County open space,” he said. “It’s a nice area, it’s an area that would fill out the range of trails through our township area.”

Martin said the area would also be a “nice site for an environmental educational center because of the habitats it encompasses.”

“We would have to go out, look at the area and find the optimal places to place this trail,” he said.

The Simonson Brook Trail exists and is used by hunters and non-hunters, Martin said.

The Committee agreed that the trail did not need yet to be made part of the PTP plan – although it may have to in the future – and that all that was needed was the appropriate signage.

The Committee also agreed to a proposed .1-acre permeable gravel driveway on Bennett’s Lane for the Negri site.

“I go into this trailhead quite frequently, and I park on the street,” he said. “The road is a little wider in that area, but I have talked to neighbors in the area … neighbors get concerned about a car they don’t know that’s parked on the street. It seems to me if we were to sponsor trail walks starting at that area, we would need more space.”

Martin said the plan would involve removing “a very small patch” of red Cedar trees. He said there is an abundance of the tree in the area.

The cross-country track is an idea of Committee member Tom Lewis’, Martin said. The idea, Lewis said, “was to be able to run a 5,0000-meter race with two loops.”

Lewis said there was some concern about safety issues. He said he would drive the proposed route and report back to the Committee.

“I’ll break it down to what’s needed at Middlebush and what’s needed to fill in the pieces from Elizabeth Avenue to the high school and getting into the park,” he said. “It’s not a lot.”

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