Regarding South Mountain Reservation Hiking Trail
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 • 3:35pm
I would like to correct some statements made in your recent article entitled “Work Underway to Repair and Expand Hiking Trail in South Mountain Reservation.”
Until a few months ago, I proudly served as a member of the Board of Directors of the South Mountain Conservancy, a position I held for over 5 years. I also was one of the individuals who headed up the Conservancy’s trail work program since 2006, in partnership with JORBA (Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association).
The first sentence of your article states: “For the first time in more than 100 years, improvements are being made to the hiking trails in Essex County's South Mountain Reservation.” I understand that this information was provided to you by the Essex County Executive, Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. This statement is patently false and is insulting to the hundreds of people who, for the past 6 years, have contributed approximately 2500 volunteer hours constructing and improving the trails in the South Mountain Reservation. Hundreds of additional volunteer hours were donated by our residents working with the Conservancy to repair the massive damage caused by our recent hurricane. This great volunteer work has resulted in several miles of new, sustainable, multi-use trails, and the closure of old and unsustainable trails, as well as repair to the deer exclosures – all at a cost of $0.00 to the taxpayers. Thus, the suggestion that this expenditure of over $1 million of taxpayer money is the first time in more than 100 years that improvements have been made to the trails in the Reservation is about as false a statement as could be made.
Since I know firsthand from conversations, meetings and written submissions that the County Executive is keenly aware of the hard work of the Conservancy, JORBA and their volunteers, I can only assume that he was once again attempting to take credit above and beyond any to which he should receive, or he was attempting to deceive the public. While I am happy money is being spent to improve the Reservation, the public might not be so happy if they knew that much (but not all) of the work could have been performed by volunteers.
Perhaps the County Executive really meant to state that “For the first time in more than 100 years, THE COUNTY IS PARTICIPATING IN improvements . . . .”