LH Trail requests Hopewell Open Space funds for 3 remaining trail segments in Hopewell
100% Trail Completion Sought Through Hopewell Township Committee Support
At Monday night’s Hopewell Township Committee meeting Becky Taylor asked the Committee to support completion of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) by 2012, through the use of funds approved in a public referendum in 2009. The specific request is for the three sections in Hopewell for which no other funding is available. The LHT, which will offer bicyclists, runners, walkers and hikers over 20 miles of safe, mostly off-road trail in Hopewell and Lawrence Townships, is currently 60% complete and accessible. The LHT has a goal of 100% completion of its primary trail loop by the end of 2012.
“From the very beginning 10 years ago, we envisioned the LHT as a community asset that would enable people from all walks of life to get safe, outdoor recreation while enjoying the natural beauty and features of our towns,” said Taylor, co-President and LHT founder. “In two years, we want families, kids and student-athletes to be able to walk or ride their bikes between schools and playing fields, commuters to ride their bikes to places of employment, and families to enjoy outings on the LHT.”
Deputy Mayor, Michael Markulec was also supportive. “We passed by a referendum, the one cent tax for open space, farmland preservation and trails. The LHT is the perfect usage for this type of funding,” said Markulec who is also the township’s representative on the LHT board.
The LHT loop traces a rough circle from Mercer County Park NW in the south of Hopewell Township northward toward Pennington-Rocky Hill Road and eventually turns to link with the Lawrence Township portion near the Educational Testing Service (an online map is available at www.lhtrail.org). Mercer County expects to complete major sections of the LHT in Mercer County Park NW and Rosedale Park late this year, leaving only three segments to close the loop in Hopewell Township.
The LHT Corporation is a unique not-for-profit organization that includes companies, municipal and county governments, other not-for-profit organizations and volunteers as its members. Co-President Taylor noted that most of the resources for trail construction to date have come from corporate, state and county grants and individual donations. The request Taylor submitted to the Hopewell Township Committee seeks funds from the Hopewell Township Open Space Levy, which, as a result of a 2009 public referendum, specifically provides funds for recreational trail construction and maintenance.
“If Hopewell Township approves this request and finances it as they have previous open space projects, with a small ‘down payment,’ they will help create an asset that will pay dividends to our community for decades to come.”
Taylor noted that the LHT Board has committed itself to help fight the trend toward obesity, particularly among children, through safe, healthy outdoor exercise.
“We also hope the Township Committee recognizes that this project is distinctly different than other open space projects, as it provides residents access to many hundreds of acres of preserved land paid for with taxpayer dollars,” Taylor continued. “That is consistent with state policy, county policy and the Hopewell Township Master Plan, and we think it just makes common sense.”
If approved by the Hopewell Township Committee, the $850,000 request would become part of the Township capital budget, financed primarily through long-term borrowing, as is typical for long-lived capital projects. The LHT has noted that making the funds available provides a stable source of funding that will make construction more efficient and cost-effective.
Press Release: 7 pm January 24, 2011
|Contact: Michael Gray|