By DANIELLE TEPPER
After a year of planning and on-the-ground clearing, two recent additions to the town’s trail system are now completed, said Rosemary Brewer, chair of the borough’s Environmental Commission.
Snaking their way behind homes on property acquired by the borough under the state Green Acres program back in the 1970s, the trail system now includes a short loop off Branch Avenue and a Y-shaped path that connects South Sunnycrest Drive to both Woodland Street and White Road.
“It sat untouched for more than 30 years, so why not let people use it?” said Brewer.
A slideshow of photos taken during a stroll along the completed trail system in May. (Click the embiggen symbol to enlarge)
Patrick O’Connell Construction & Landscaping of Colts Neck was contracted for $6,000 to come in and clear the woods and make them accessible to residents.
“We wanted them to be kept as natural as possible, but we also needed them to be walkable,” said Brewer. “Four guys came in with their wheelbarrows and machetes and took out about eight truckloads of brush and garbage.”It was done in about a week. I think they did a great job.”
The men also laid the wooden pathways that traverse the streams, which contained a “phenomenal” amount of trash after being used as a dumping ground, said Brewer. The only other additional cost will be the maintenance of the trails, but if people use them often enough, Brewer said that won’t really be necessary.
The new sections have now been open to the public for three months or so. The trail system as a whole offers an approximate two-mile walk, one-way, on five trails, which are all relatively flat and accessible to kids and seniors as well.
The loop off the westerly side of Branch Avenue originally would have continued across the street and into the woods on Maple, if not for a snag with some local residents. “We didn’t want to have to break them up,” said Brewer. “But we had no choice. Certain residents didn’t want ‘people walking through their backyards.’” Three homes there voted against the trails, even though they would have been placed well outside their property lines.
“They didn’t care,” Brewer explained. “But it wasn’t worth the grief to try to convince them. This is the first time we had people complain. Usually, residents love it and in most cases, the trails were there before most of their houses.”
The Environmental Commission aims to eventually have each trail feature a nice entranceway with mulch laid down, some minor landscaping, and signage. An informational brochure is also in the works which will outline the trail system, the foliage and wildlife, and also a few warnings for things like poison ivy, ticks, and general precautions.
“The streams are so pretty,” said Brewer. “These are gorgeous woods; we just wanted people to be able to use them.”