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The Lawrence Hopewell Trail honored Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes with the third annual Trailblazer Award at an event this week at the D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center in Princeton.

Hughes was among the Lawrence Hopewell Trail’s earliest supporters and has remained steadfast in his commitment to the LHT’s goal to build a 22+ mile biking and walking loop through Lawrence and Hopewell Townships. Among Hughes’s many significant actions supporting the trail, he designated the LHT as the backbone of trail system for Mercer Meadows. And now his leadership is helping the LHT address the “missing link” to the trail, a stretch that links the trail off the Princeton Farms neighborhood in Hopewell Township across Carter Road and eventually connecting up with Educational Testing Service’s campus in Lawrence Township. The county supported the efforts by the N.J. Conservation Foundation and citizen activists to preserve the land as open space, enabling the LHT’s planned trail to become a reality.

“Creating a trail that would allow Mercer County residents to walk, jog or ride bikes through our beautiful communities has always made sense to me,” said Executive Hughes at the event Wednesday, October 20. “From my first acquaintance with the project, I was impressed with the vision of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail board to take an untraditional approach to developing a trail system through Lawrence and Hopewell Townships.”

“The collaboration between the county and the LHT has served the residents of Mercer County well, offering walkers, joggers and bicyclists access to some of the most beautiful parts of the county, including every aspect of the Mercer Meadows Park system,” Hughes said.

“Brian Hughes has been pivotal to our success in developing the Lawrence Hopewell Trail,” Becky Taylor, LHT co-president, told attendees at last night’s celebration of Hughes as this year’s “Trailblazer.” “He believed in our vision early on, giving us needed credibility to move forward in creating a trail where we don’t own a single foot of land but we cross corporate properties, public parkland and even private residences along the loop. Brian’s administration provided much needed financial support at several junctures as well as representation on the LHT Board of Trustees through Mercer County Planning Director Leslie Floyd.”

“The LHT is frequently asked how we, a group of lay citizens, have been able to build such a long, complex trail.  Our answer is that you must start with a strong vision, a committed board, tenacity, and the full support of an equally visionary and tenacious County Executive.  We could not have asked for a better advocate than Brian Hughes,” said Eleanor Horne, LHT co-president.

About the Lawrence Hopewell Trail: The Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) is a 20+ mile bicycle and pedestrian trail and transportation corridor through public and private land in Lawrence and Hopewell Townships in Mercer County, N.J. The idea for the LHT grew out of a commitment to improving the quality of life for all of those who work in the region. The LHT supports an active, livable and sustainable community with alternative forms of transportation to reduce the reliance on automobiles. It also promotes health and fitness, recreation and outdoor education. The LHT is a key member of the Circuit Coalition, a 750-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian trails connecting people to jobs, communities, and parks in the Greater Philadelphia Region. For more information about the LHT, please visit www.lhtrail.org.

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe, and a lawyer. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, photographing mushrooms, and misguided adventures in random hobbies. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), serves on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, and holds the elected position as the Hopewell Borough Democratic Committee Municipal Chairwoman.

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