Trails Committee Suggests Opening Griggstown Grassland Preserve To Bicyclists

Four of the six trails at the Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve should be opened to bicyclists, a township advisory committee decided July 9.

The Trails Advisory Committee voted 4-2 to recommend to the Open Space Advisory Committee that it vote to allow bicycling on the orange, yellow, brown and purple trails, located off Canal Road.

Those trails total about four miles in length.

The blue and red trails were excepted because of their environmental sensitivity.

A majority of members of the open space committee at their last meeting were opposed to the idea.

Lincoln Avenue resident Steven Rauf brought the idea to the trails committee at the July 9 meeting. Rauf said he wanted to “understand why bicycles are not approved” for the trails, and what public body would be able to change that.

Open space committee chairman Randy Jones, who was attending the trails committee meeting, said that members of his committee were “concerned about conservation and stewardship of our property.”

“I think the majority of this committee would have no issue with bikes on the trails, but the open space committee will be the challenge,” he said.

Fran Varacalli, the township’s environmental consultant, said some of the trails are not suitable for bicycles because they get muddy and the bikes “could leave ruts.”

“I would not like to see bikes in the lower portion” near Canal Road, she said.

“A bike is not going to do any more damage than a horse or the mowing gear,” Rauf said.

Committee member Dominick Abbatiello was opposed to the idea.

“Six-Mile Run 10 years ago, 12 years ago, was pretty nice,” he said. “Now it’s beat to hell.”

“The trails you’re suggesting are single-track trails, and those are the kinds of trails that bikes kill,” he said.

“If you open this section to bikes, you open it up to everyone who rides at Six Mile Run,” said member Pat Leonard.

Committee member Mark Fortin said the number of incidents that occur at the preserve might be lessened if there are more people using the trails.

“I’m on the fence about this,” said committee member Dana Oley. “As a new bike rider, I would love to go tooling around there, but as a trail maintenance volunteer, I see the other side.”

“The problem is there is no one down there to police what’s going on there,” Leonard said.

Abbatiello said he thought “it was more of a wildlife preserve or sanctuary. This will ruin that.”

The recommendation will be passed on to the open space committee, which meets in August.

Griggstown Grasslands Map

The Griggstown Grassland Preserve.
Photo: Franklin Township


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