LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES TRAIL PLAN FOR CARSON ROAD WOODS
With a unanimous vote, the Lawrence Township Council approved the plan to build an important section of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) in the Carson Road Woods Park.
Last month’s decision caps eight years of discussions with neighborhood organizations about the details and location of the trail. A 186-acre public park owned by Lawrence Township, Carson Road Woods Park is one of the most beautiful sites in Lawrence Township. “Once the LHT is completed, Carson Road Woods will become an even more cherished Township asset because of its balanced approach to providing access to open space and environmental sensitivity,” explained Eleanor Horne, a Lawrenceville resident and co-president of the LHT.
The trail project, including the segment through Carson Road Woods, also follows the priorities of the township’s master plan for open space and recreational trails, which was endorsed by the planning board in 1999. Measuring about 1.5 miles through the existing park and public roadways, the Carson Road Woods-Mya Drive the section connects trail segments between Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and Educational Testing Service (ETS).
At the council meeting, Ms. Horne presented data from a 2005 New Jersey Department of Transportation study that used census data and trail use statistics from existing trails to support the concept of the LHT and its connections with many different aspects of the community. The study noted that the many destinations along or near the trail will add to its appeal and increase potential use. These destinations include BMS, ETS, Lawrenceville Main Street, schools, and public recreation and natural areas such as Village Park ,Carson Road Woods, Mercer Meadows, and the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed. Approximately two-thirds of the LHT is located within census tracks where the bicycle travel demand is high, according to the report.
“We are very grateful for the support of the Lawrence Township Council , the Township Administrator Rich Krawczun and Township Engineer Jim Parvesse, now and over the years ,” said Eleanor Horne, a Lawrenceville resident and co-president of the LHT. “But this does not mean we have stopped communicating with our neighbors on the trail. We look forward to continuing to work with the Friends of Carson Road Woods and the Rosedale Acres homeowners’ association as we move toward completing the main portions of this trail loop by 2012.”
The vote was 3-0, with Mayor Greg Puliti and Council Members Michael Powers and Jim Kownacki voting to approve the plan for the eight-foot wide trail which will be reddish colored stone dust. In environmentally sensitive areas the trail may be reduced to six feet wide. Council Member Pam Mount abstained because she is a member of the LHT Board of Trustees; Council Member Bob Bostock, who announced his strong support of the trail at a council meeting two weeks previously, was out of town on business and unable to attend.
“The goal of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail is to create a loop that will connect neighborhoods, employers, schools, athletic fields and business districts in Lawrence and Hopewell townships,” Ms. Horne told the council. “And through this trail, we will offer area residents access to open space, an opportunity for safe, family recreation, increase connections in our community and help alleviate congestion on our roadways by offering an alternative to car travel for short commutes. “
Thanks to a grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, construction will begin soon on a section of trail in the park. Funds for design and construction of the remaining trail through the park have yet to be raised.
The Lawrence-Hopewell Trail Corporation is a non-profit organization, run by area volunteers. The trail follows a loop of about 22 miles connecting the two townships and is more than 60% complete with additional sections accessible but not paved or signed yet. In Lawrence it links Educational Testing Service, Carson Road Woods Park, Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Dyson Tract Park with the D&R Canal, the Brearley House, and the Brandywine Office Complex on Princeton Pike . The trail then moves north to The Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville’s Main Street and Village Park before connecting with Mercer County Park NW, now re-named Mercer Meadows, in southern Hopewell Township. An online map and more information is available at www.lhtrail.org