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Bike Trail Plan Riles Residents, Council

Governing body approves resolution opposing Morris County Park Commission proposal; environmental, privacy, security concerns cited.

The Morris County Park Commission just wanted to know which box to check on a planned grant application.

Hoping to install a paved bike path along backyards and a railroad line in Madison to extend the Traction Line Recreation Trail to Elm Street, the commission was looking to answer on a state grant application whether the host community supports the project—Yes or No.

The answer given at Monday's Borough Council meeting was a resounding "No."

"I think the message is loud and clear," Council President Jeannie Tsukamoto said.

The proposal to install a paved, 10-foot-wide, six-tenths-of-a-mile long bike path upset residents who cited concerns about the environment, privacy, security. More than a dozen residents attended the meeting to protest the plan and some of them said they value their privacy and would move if the bike path was built.

Arthur J. Vitale, assistant director of engineering services for the Morris County Park Commission, said it would involve cutting down trees and shrubs, and would affect drainage in the area.

Residents also expressed concern with what they said was a lack of communication about the project. They said they only knew to attend the meeting from neighbors.

Council members unanimously defeated a resolution supporting the grant and then went the extra step of unanimously approving a resolution opposing the plan, with the intention of sending it to county and state officials.

Vitale said engineering and construction for the project is expected to cost more than $500,000. He said it would be up to the Park Commission to decide what it will do in light of Madison's response.

The plan wasn't entirely without Madison supporters. Mayor Bob Conley, John Morris and Chris Kellogg said they supported the project. It would connect Madison and Morristown, and could bring more bicyclists to Madison's downtown, they said.

Yelowhownd July 12, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I really think people are over reacting to this. The Patriot's Path, Traction Line, West Essex Trail, Henry Hudson Trail, Sussex Branch Trail, Highlands Trail, etc. wind their ways through lands all throughout the state and near and around people's property and how often does anyone hear about crime in these areas? Look at the Randolph Trail System or East Coast Greenway, they are great places to get out and get exercise. It's no different than people walking on a sidewalk in front of someone's house. Sure there are people that are a little weird on these trails, nature nuts can be that way, but they're pretty harmless. I wish there were more bike paths and walkways in the area, it would keep people from riding and walking in the streets.
MadLaxDad July 12, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I think there is a huge safety issue here. Having a secluded and dark path running close to houses offers a concealed getaway path for thieves. We have enough trouble in Madison with car break ins and houses being broken into without providing a "back door" path for these people to use. Would this path be patrolled at night by Madison PD? Imagine your in bed and you hear voices coming from the path. Do you feel secure? I'm all for space for recreation but this is crazy.
Coupe July 13, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I think it's a great idea. Anyone who thinks they can use 124 never tried to run or bike without worrying about the traffic and have to get over the"NIMBY" mentality, you live in New Jersey the most densely populated state in the US you want privacy your in the wrong area
David Arthur July 13, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I appreciate the fact that we live in the most densely populated state in the US. I still see the serious bikers on 124...they use the bike lanes. But my objection has less to do with "a bike path" and more to do with the value of adding 1/2 mile that will dump people off at Elm Street. On top of that...the cost is a waste of money. Some people will argue that the money will come from the County or some other State funding source....so it really doesn't cost the town of Madison anything. Well, the money doesn't grow on trees it comes from yours and my tax dollars. I see more serious problems that need attention today than wasting $500,000 on a bike path to nowhere.
Artful Dodger July 14, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Nick , there is a safe way - walk up Danforth to Morris Place, then out to Madison Ave., you can walk the entire way to town using sidewalks. We walk or ride into town this way at least once a week - with small children and it doesn't take hardly any time at all. Try it.

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