High Bridge man hopes to create hiking and biking trail

Date Published: 
Mon, 11/01/2010

High Bridge man hopes to create hiking and biking trail; bow hunter says there could be problems

HIGH BRIDGE — A resident hopes to build a biking and hiking trail through 55 wooded acres behind the High Bridge Commons, near Main Street and Cregar Road.

“My proposal is to obtain community approval to build ... a multipurpose trail,” said Jeff Oliver, who said he moved to High Bridge from North Carolina three and a half years ago, attracted to the borough because of its proximity to the Columbia Trail and other biking routes.

But resident Russell Snyder said he bow hunts in the area proposed for the trails, and said he would prefer they be built somewhere else.

“You might cause problems between hunters and riders,” he said.

Oliver said, “Yes, there is a tree stand. Yes, there is a line of corn that goes right down to it, and yes, there is a ‘no hunting’ sign — I don’t know if it’s still valid or not.”

Mayor Mark Desire said borough officials would seek permission from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres program, because the borough-owned property was purchased with Green Acres funding.

Borough Attorney Barry Goodman said he would check whether the trails, if created, would be covered by borough insurance.

The woods behind the Commons are “protected green space,” with some makeshift trails already created by ATVs, Oliver said.

“Our goal is really to optimize the recreational value of this protected green space,” he said in asking for Borough Council’s approval, but not for funding.

“We’re building something out of nature, so we’re not really needing to buy a lot of things,” he said.

Councilwoman Mary Murdock asked if the paths would be wide enough to avoid crashes between bicyclists and pedestrians.

Oliver said he would get “expert advice” from the Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association about how to create the trail, which he said would be “beginners level” and marked with signs.

The area is littered with garbage, including a discarded washing machine, so he and other volunteers plan to clean it up. He would like to start work on the first half of the trail later this month, with a projected opening for the public in March 2011. Work on the second half of the trail in the steeper portion of the woods would begin in the spring.

Resident Sheri Woliver said official trails would be better than ATV trails.

“It’s open to the public, but it’s chaotic,” she said. “This way, if you had signs up, it seems like a safer way to protect people from the chaotic use.”