Bordentown school board approves land easement to township for bike path

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A new bike path is planned to be installed behind Bordentown Regional High School.

That action came from a decision that the board of education approved to grant a land easement to Bordentown Township at an Aug. 14 meeting.

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The Bordentown Regional School District Board of Education made a motion to approve and pass a decision to grant a non-exclusive, permanent easement to Bordentown Township on property owned by the district behind the high school on Ward Avenue.

The township said it plans to use the property for the installation, operation, maintenance, repair replacement and existence of a bike path.

Municipal officials said that the portion of the path granted by the easement is paid for through a grant from the New Jersey State Department of Transportation and is part of what is now a 3.3 mile bike/pedestrian path system throughout the township.

The path begins behind the Dollar General and Pep Boys storefronts on Groveville Road, and this portion of the path continues through to Highbridge Road and into Borden’s Crossing. This new portion of the path exits Borden’s Crossing (around mid-way on Crescent Drive) into the fields behind and owned by the school district, and will continue and connect to the sidewalks on Hogback Road, according to municipal officials.

Once completed, officials reported that the path can be accessed from Ward Avenue in front of the high school, where bikers and walkers can enter Joseph Lawrence Park and the paths there.

“Eventually this will connect to the path that crosses Crosswicks Road and Charles Bossert Drive, and follow the existing path through the farmlands all the way through to Constitution Drive,” Bordentown Township Administrator Michael Theokas said in an email. “This portion was built through a $300,000 grant several years ago.”

Theokas explained that the township had recently added shared bike/pedestrian lanes on Holloway and Williamsburg Drive in order to “make it safer for bikers and pedestrians,” too. The township administrator explained that the plan is to connect as much of the township via bike/pedestrian paths as possible with the help of the new project behind the high school.

Following the decision from the school board, the Bordentown Superintendent of Schools Edward Forsthoffer said the process to work with the township on the path had been lengthy, but was happy to see it “finally come to fruition.”

Forsthoffer said it was his understating that preliminary work on the path would begin in late August and hopefully completed sometime in the fall.

Moments before the board voted to approve the easement, the members discussed and confirmed that the district should have a point of contact from the township to address any matters on the path such as potential damages and upgrades, and when to close the path and prevent pedestrians traversing on it if needed near the high school’s property. The board voted to approve the easement with those conditions in place.

Following the decision from the school board, Bordentown Township Mayor Stephen Benowitz expressed his support of the board’s decision as well as its significance to benefit the community.

“The Township Committee is very proud to continue this pedestrian/bike path project,” Benowitz said. “We have worked very hard at acquiring grants and other methods of independent financing in order to make this happen.  This portion of the path is important as it connects many residents to our high school, middle school and park system.

“The committee will continue to make pedestrian and bicycle availability and safety a priority moving forward,” Benowitz added.

The township mayor explained that this portion of the path could not have been accomplished without the cooperation from the board of education, and specifically noted the efforts of Forsthoffer to complete the project.

Township Committeeman Ken Mason, who also serves as a liaison to the Board of Education and Parks and Recreation, expressed his gratitude to the school board as well for their approval of the easement.

“Projects such as this pedestrian path take a lot of planning, communication and cooperation,” Mason said. “I want to thank Township Engineer Fred Turek, and Public Works Manager Dean Buhrer on their work getting this done.

“The cooperation from the Board of Education was vital to the success of this project.  We look forward to continuing the progress in the township with upgrades to our parks, increased support for our youth sports programs, and providing recreation opportunities such as this path for all of our residents to enjoy,” Mason explained.

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