To the Editor:
Hopewell Township is and absolutely should continue to be a leader in both our stewardship of the environment and of our tax dollars, and the Complete Streets program in which the township participates is one step in maintaining that.
Through New Jersey’s Local Aid and Economic Development program, municipalities can be selected for funding for bikeways, bridge preservation, pedestrian safety enhancements, and keeping our roadways safe and in good condition. In fiscal year 2018, Hopewell Township received $873,500 in such aid just for improvements to Bull Run and Van Brunt Roads. Having a Complete Streets policy awards a point toward a maximum of 25 on applications for the highly-sought grants. That’s more of our Trenton-destined tax dollars returning to Hopewell Township to help our roads combat wear-and-tear from four seasons of weather and use. Those are also dollars that help keep our municipal taxes in check and allow more local money to be used for services beyond road spending.
The Township’s Complete Streets ordinance, approved in 2014, states “all public street projects in the Township of Hopewell, both new construction and reconstruction, excluding maintenance, shall be planned, designed and constructed as Complete Streets.” It goes on to say that the Complete Streets policy “provides for the accommodation of travel by pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit users, and motorists. Complete Streets shall accommodate users of all ages and abilities.”
I live near one of the two roads that underwent the Complete Streets treatment just this fall, Brandon Road West. A stretch that had been unsightly with patchwork fixes to the asphalt now looks outstanding, with center-lane striping, bike lanes, and brand-new road signs.
TCNJ-based environmental group Sustainable Jersey, which conferred Hopewell Township with bronze certification in 2017, awards points for adopting and instituting a Complete Streets policy along with other areas that helped our community achieve its status, including holding recycling events, the farmers market that supports locally-grown food, encouraging green design and building, having an active Environmental Commission, using recycled paper in the township offices, and collecting prescription drugs that could otherwise get into waterways or improper hands.
I’d like to see our community and its leaders continue to keep resource conservation – both environmental and fiscal – top of mind. The benefits are about more than the tax dollars of those who live here now and doing our part to make sure our environment is healthy for generations ahead. It’s also about showing a generation of prospective residents, business owners and corporate leaders for whom sustainability is an ever more important concern that it all matters to Hopewell Township too, and our home is worth a look when choosing where to locate your home or job-generating business.
Sustainability isn’t just about the health of our environment. It’s about the health of our community overall, and making the commitment to Complete Streets is a part of it.
Note: Mr. Borders is a member of the Hopewell Township Zoning Board but writes as an individual resident.