The NJPO is made up of planning and zoning officers, attorneys, engineers, architects, and others. It is neither a state agency nor a professional organization. It was formed by and is still led by the civilian planners, volunteer local residents appointed by mayors and/or municipal governing bodies to serve on planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment. They chart and preserve a community’s quality of life standards.
In the program announcing the award, the NJPO described the LHT: “The Lawrence Hopewell Trail was originally established by Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Educational Testing Service to establish an interconnected network of bicycle trails/walking paths between their respective corporate campuses. Through the involvement of MercerCounty, LawrenceTownship, HopewellTownship and Pennington Borough the trail system has been expanded to link village centers to those centers of employment and provide active recreational opportunities to the public.”
The NJPO brochure continued, “The Trail is a 20+ miles bicycle and pedestrian recreational trail and transportation corridor through the public and private lands that grew out of a commitment to improving the quality of life for all who live or work in the region. The Trail supports an active, livable, and sustainable community with alternative forms of transportation to reduce reliance on automobiles. It also promotes health and fitness, recreation and outdoor education.”
NJPO Executive Director Jason Kasler said, “We honored the Lawrence Hopewell Trail because it is a citizen-led effort that provides an important amenity for the communities of Lawrence and HopewellTownships.”
Winn Thompson, vice president of the NJPO, a member of the Pennington Borough Planning and Zoning Board and the person who nominated the LHT for the award, said, “The Lawrence Hopewell Trail is a unique public/private partnership led by two of the principal corporations in our region, together with participation by local municipalities, Mercer County, state and federal governments and local citizen groups to create an asset in our community which will serve everyone for generations.”
Eleanor Horne, co-president of the LHT and former vice president at Educational Testing Services, said, “We are honored to have been recognized at the 2013 New Jersey Planning Officials ceremony. We share a vision with the members of the NJPO to support and enhance our local communities, so this award is very special to us.”
“Since 2002 a group of dedicated citizens has been planning and eventually building a biking and walking trail we call the LHT,” said Becky Taylor, also co-president of the trail as well as president of BTaylor Public Affairs. “Without the upfront planning, our trail would be nothing but a great idea. Now our trail is about 80 percent complete, enabling people to walk or bike through parks, a village, schools, corporate campuses and neighborhoods in Hopewell and LawrenceTownships.”