When Mercer County government and park officials began developing a master plan for a series of parks nestled in Lawrence and Hopewell Townships several years ago, they knew it would be important to connect key elements through a trail system. Simultaneously, the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) Board of Trustees had been hard at work developing a trail that was to loop through both towns for years.
It made perfect sense, county officials realized, for the Lawrence Hopewell Trail to serve as the backbone for the park trail system. So they made sure the LHT route through the park connected Rosedale Park, the Mercer County Equestrian Center and Mercer County Park Northwest (the “Pole Farm”). When they unveiled plans for the newly consolidated park in 2010, they called it Mercer Meadows and officially recognized the LHT as the trail system’s spine.
On Friday June 5th, many notable elected officials, the LHT Board of Trustees, as well as biking and walking enthusiasts, gathered on the trail to officially cut the ribbon marking the completion of the trail in Mercer Meadows. At this point, about 85 percent of the 22-mile trail that loops through Lawrence and Hopewell Townships has been built and is open to the public.
“It is a blessing to be here today,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. “This is what happens when you believe in something, don’t give up, and hold people accountable. Bristol Meyers and ETS have provided value to the way they share their resources. This is a win-win and I hope people take advantage of this.”
Senator Shirley Turner offered her congratulations to those who have worked so hard to preserve and create the trail, in particular LHT co-presidents Eleanor Horne and Becky Taylor. “This is the best example of a partnership, private and public, working together,” said Senator Turner. “And this comes at a time when people are very focused on health, recreation and fitness. It is wonderful to know this is open to the public and so many families in Mercer County will be able to enjoy this trail. We still have miles to go before we sleep.”
“This really harkens back to a time when Mercer County really was an agricultural center of the state,” said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes. “There is such a diversity walking along this trail you can imagine what Mercer County was like 100 or 150 years ago. There are so many things this trail can you bring you but, most importantly, it brings you back in history and allows for passive recreation. It gives you the time to think about what life is all about and that is its enduring value.”
“Our park system in Mercer County goes beyond belief. With this trail, it only enhance what we have here and we have a wonderful trail,” stated Mercer County Freeholder Pat Colavita.
“It started with your vision and our vision and I want to thank County Executive Brian Hughes. This has been one of the most rewarding personal and professional achievements and I am so proud of this park,” said Mercer County Parks Commission Executive Director Kevin Bannon.
“Welcome to Hopewell Township and the latest segment of the LHT. This is the second time that I’ve been invited to the opening of a segment of the LHT, the second time I have accepted and the second time I could sit under this tent and reflect on the majesty of this project,” said Hopewell Township Mayor Harvey Lester.
“If you haven’t been out on this trail yet, it is absolutely beautiful. This is part of what makes Hopewell and Mercer County a great place to live,” said Hopewell Township Committee member Kevin Kuchinski. “And I’m looking forward to one day being able to go all 22 miles.”
Eleanor Horne, LHT co-president, thanked each member of the board individually. “We are a volunteer-lead organization and have a working board — we could not have done this without them.”
For more information about the LHT, please visit www.lhtrail.org.
About the Lawrence Hopewell Trail
The Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) is a 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. For more information please visit www.lhtrail.org