Back in 2001, community leaders gathered at Bristol-Myers Squibb to discuss a lack of options for safe, off-road walking, hiking, and biking in the community. By 2004, the Lawrence Hopewell Trail opened its very first segment. Nearing completion and over 20 miles in length, we thought it time to share some memories and some history. Here, on its 19th birthday, are recollections on how the trail came about, adapted from a message from Eleanor V. Horne, LHT Co-President.
In some respects, February 5th is the Lawrence Hopewell Trail’s birthday. Back in 2002, co-president Becky Taylor convened a group of community representatives to discuss the idea of a trail that would connect the three Bristol Myers Squibb campuses – Lawrence, Hopewell, and the proposed site on Princeton Pike. The meeting was attended by Dennis Davidson from NJDEP’s Green Acres Program; Ann Demarais; the energy and leadership behind much of the early trail work in Lawrence; Peter Wood, another Lawrence Trails pioneer; Leslie Floyd, board member who has been with the LHT from the very first day; among many others.
Taylor presented her idea for the trail and for a new way of working among various stakeholders and property owners. There was enough interest that the group held subsequent meetings during which the idea for the LHT began to take hold. Taylor has said it was never the intention of BMS to remain involved, but that Davidson convinced her that having a major corporation in a leadership role would be advantageous. He was right. And it turned out that corporate leadership in trail development was one of the distinctive hallmarks of the LHT.
We will be forever thankful to Taylor and her BMS colleagues for the idea that 19 years later is our incredible trail – an incredible amenity used by almost 500,000 people a year.
It not only connects five corporate campuses, it connects two townships, and so many people working for a better, stronger community. The LHT even spawned the development of the Twin Pines Playing Fields by Lawrence and Hopewell Townships with the support of Mercer County.
We are so grateful to Taylor for shepherding the idea that resulted in the LHT. And for Floyd, an incredible operational influence since the beginning. Also, we are thankful to Pam Mount, former mayor of Lawrence Township, for helping garner support on township council, without which there would be no trail. And, Mount introduced Taylor and co-president Eleanor Horne.
Photo by Matt Rainey