Opinion By: Times of Trenton As published 08/19/2008

Of scenic and civic pride…

What started out as a “wouldn’t-it-be-great?” idea about eight years ago is now the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail.
The hiking and biking path that will make a 23-mile loop through scenic wooded areas of Lawrence and Hopewell townships is a testament to what can be accomplished when varied groups and individuals come together for a common good.

Much of the credit for the trail goes to Rebecca Taylor and Eleanor Horne, who head the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail organization. Thanks to their hard work and dedication, they have rallied support for the nature path, particularly from corporate donors Bristol-Myers Squibb and Educational Testing Service, which have contributed funds and land to the project. Ms. Taylor formerly worked for Bristol-Meyers Squibb. Ms. Horne is vice president if ETS’s Social Investment Fund.

Also playing a part either with funding or planning are both townships, Mercer County, the state, and groups such as the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, the D&R Greenway Land Trust, the Lawrenceville Main Street, the Princeton Free Wheelers and St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center. Just as critical to making the pathway a reality are the countless individuals who contributed time and money to the effort.

The trail has been coming together in bits and pieces. Recently, plans were approved for a 3,000-foot section of the trail through the 184-acre Dyson tract in Lawrence, where it was necessary to alter the path so it would loop around contaminated soil and a wetlands zone. When the Dyson Tract section is in place, perhaps before the end of the year, the trail will be halfway complete, according to officials.

Much of the trail is mapped out, but there are sections where the route is still to be defined. A critical section is the Carson Road Woods tract in Lawrence. The 183-acre preserve is owned by Lawrence, but was purchased through a combination of public and private funds. Some of the private investors are nearby residents who are wary of cutting a path way through the unspoiled wooded area. We hope that the spirit of cooperation will carry the day and a compromise can be found to complete that part of the trail. With luck, the $9 million trail will be completed in 2012.

The trail is unique in that it goes through some of the most pristine sections of Lawrence and Hopewell. It will also link to other trails that run through the townships. The trail will provide future generations a chance to enjoy a scenic treasure — much of that land might have been lost to development if not for the conservation efforts of open-space advocates.

Fifty years from now, those hiking or biking on the trail will take it for granted, unaware of the community effort that made it possible. To all who took that “wouldn’t-it-be- great?” idea and made it a reality, we extend our thanks.

©The Times of Trenton, 2008