Sunday, June 18, 2006
The Times, Trenton

By MATTHEW EGAN

LAWRENCE — A ceremonial ribbon cutting yesterday morning brought the Lawrence Hopewell Trail one step closer to completion.

The newly finished 1.2-mile portion of what will be a 20-mile biking and walking trail is located on the campus of the Educational Testing Service on Rosedale Road. Yesterday’s festivities included a bicycle drive, a walk along the new portion and comments from those who helped make the trail a reality.

“This is a wonderful joint project of profit, nonprofit and public entities,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, whose district includes Lawrence and Hopewell townships. Holt said that while the entire population of Mercer County may not necessarily use the trail, “the presence of it can elevate the entire community.”

The trail project began in 2001 with an estimated cost of $6 million and with the cooperation of the local governments of Lawrence and Hopewell townships, Bristol-Myers Squibb and ETS.

“We have been helping the corporate and the private sector put together this trail for a long time,” said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes. “Today we are starting to see the fruits of that labor.”

Several portions of the trail have already been completed, including a trail through Bristol-Myers Squibb, a trail in Lawrence Village Park and one through the campus of the Lawrence School.

There are plans in the works for additional trails throughout Lawrence and the new Mercer County Park Northwest.

“I promise to do what I can from Washington and around the county to get this entire loop completed as quickly as possible,” Holt said.

Organizers hope the completed trail will provide recreational opportunities for residents. “This really has been a shared vision by many, many people,” said Becky Taylor, director of corporate communications at Bristol-Myers Squibb and co-chairwoman of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail.

“Five years ago we all got together because we wanted to create a biking and walking trail that would literally and figuratively link our two towns together.”

Deputy Mayor of Hopewell Township David Sandahl said there were several bumps in the road. “It has not been easy and considerable leadership was required on several fronts to keep the dream of the trail alive.”

In the past, opposition has surfaced from those who argued that the presence of a trail for bikers and hikers would disrupt open space. Supporters have countered that the presence of the trail would help prevent housing developments in some areas.

Sandahl credited Eleanor Horne, vice president of the ETS Social Investment Fund and co-chairwoman of the trail project, as a source of “inspiring leadership.”

As part of yesterday’s activities, the nonprofit Pedals for Progress, which recycles used bicycles for needy people around the world, had collected dozens of bikes by the time of the ribbon cutting. According to its Web site, Pedals has shipped just under 100,000 bikes around the world over the past 15 years. Pedals also had a collection site yesterday at the West Windsor Community Farmers Market.

©2006 The Times.