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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.

William Yardley July 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM
I'm very disappointed in the Borough Council's response. As a frequent user of the trail (much of which runs alongside back yards of homes on it's other end!), I was excited to hear of the planned extension.
John Zimmerman July 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Mr Yardley, the few houses/residential properties the trail borders in Morristown are well away from the actual 10 foot wide pavement. That will not be the case on Beech Avenue in Madison where in some cases it will be withing a 10 or 15 yeards of residents homes. How would you like to have a 10 foot wide paved trail that close to your home?
Slip July 10, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I understand the concerns but I can't say I'm not a little disappointed in the response. I have a public area in my backyard so having a 10-15 yard buffer of park-like maintained landscape doesn't seem too invasive. Privacy concerns aside, any development near the Elm street area would likely be an improvement
John Zimmerman July 10, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Slip, the 10-15 yard buffer will not be park like, unless the residents pay for it themselves. I am talking about 10-15 yards of your backyard (that you maintain from the back of your dwelling) and then the path, then a chain link fence between the path and the railroad tracks. And to accomplish this they will have to cut down many established trees and rip us brush. So noise levels will increase. The presneter even mentioned drainage problems associated with the plan and they are talking about potentially entirely fencing in the path (both sides). Boy, that sounds visually appealing, no?
Kendra Arnold July 10, 2012 at 02:26 PM
This is so disappointing! The Traction Line is great, but right now ends just dumping pedestrians and bike riders at Danforth. Having a path like this that would go all the way into Madison from Morristown would be awesome.
William Yardley July 10, 2012 at 04:26 PM
To be honest, I'd be fine with it. We have sidewalks and streets that run fairly close to our home. I haven't found them to be a problem. In fact, i find them to be an asset. But to each his or her own.
Simon Templar July 11, 2012 at 01:06 AM
I live in Beech Ave. There is not enough space between my yard fence and the rail road lines to squeeze a path. I'm not willing to have people walking-riding behind my house. Maybe the people who is in favor doesn't have that concern, or maybe they don't have to worry about the security of their daughters. I will oppose with the full extent ofthe law to this proyect.
David Arthur July 11, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I have to say this is one of the stupidist ideas I've heard in recent history. To think this will bring bikers into downtown Madison makes no sense at all. They will be getting off at Elm street. Even if some do make it into town...what are they going to buy? Gatoraide? When's the last time you saw a biker with baskets on a bicycle? Most of the real bikers are using 124. It would make more sense if they let us use golf carts.
Jabez Van Cleef July 11, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I live at 20 Pine Avenue in Madison in the neighborhood that the quoted officials claim would be adversely affected by the proposed path. I walk three miles every day on the existing path, generally in the direction of Morristown, and I cannot understand how anyone could claim that such a path, if extended in the opposite direction, would represent an esthetic, safety, security, or environmental hazard of any kind to the residents adjacent to the path. Has anyone consulted with the Morris Township residents whose properties abut the path to find out if they have experienced any problems with it? I further take issue with commentary by the Board of Health president, since I do not think that such a path has anything to do with public health except perhaps to consider that walking on the path would promote health. And we cannot walk or bike on the path unless they build the path. Therefore I oppose any effort to discourage building of this path and I resent the implication in this article that most or all residents in our neighborhood are opposed to the path.
Bob July 11, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I think it is a great idea I use this path all the time and so do a lot of people .... And for those concerned about people being so close to your yard I wouldn't worry about it ... The people that use this path are your normal everyday people staying in shape and getting a workout... What's the difference if they are on a sidewalk in the front of your house or behind a fenced area in back of your house????? Please extend this path!!!!!
David Arthur July 11, 2012 at 05:50 PM
What a great way to use taxpayers dollars! Like we don't have enough infrastructure needs...we need to waste money on a 1/2 mile bike path?
The Good Guy July 12, 2012 at 12:56 PM
I thought it was great idea and it would be running right through my backyard. The reason is that we have no sidewalks on Park avenue and there is no SAFE WAY to walk from my house to town. Either do this or build sidewalks on Park Avenue up to Danforth Avenue.
The Good Guy July 12, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Yes, I'm for it to, but I don't agree that the all the people are normal, everyday people. Most of the time I see college kids walking along smoking pot...
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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