Lawrence to begin design of new trail at Colonial Lake Park

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Lawrence Township officials will begin the design for a new section of trail along the west bank of Colonial Lake within the next few months.

The township received a $75,000 grant to pay for the construction of the trail segment from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Local Recreation Improvement Fund in January, officials said.

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The state grants cover the costs to update community centers, playgrounds, pools, fields, walking or bicycle trails, multi-sport courts, recreational facilities and rail trails, officials said.

The township will provide a 20% funding match to cover engineering costs, other agency permits, and construction oversight and inspection of the trail as it is being built, officials said.

The trail segment, which stretches a quarter mile, will continue from the existing trail on the north side of Colonial Lake and stop at the sidewalk connection on Route 1 north. Benches will be placed along the new trail segment so visitors can see the lake.

The project will provide opportunities for “increased use of the recreational trail system in Colonial Lake Park by linking the existing network with a new section to complete the loop around the lake,” according to the grant application.

Residents who live on the north side of Colonial Lake cannot conveniently get to the children’s playground area or the tennis courts in Colonial Lake Park, according to the grant application.

“Colonial Lake Park will now be accessible to all users for all purposes with a trail system” instead of driving to the park or using a circuitous path to get to the southern part of the park, according to the grant application.

The trail will be built on part of a 5.8-acre parcel of land that the township acquired from Sheft Associates Inc. in 2020. Sheft Associates Inc., which owns the Colonial Bowling and Entertainment Center at 2420 Brunswick Pike, had proposed building a 123-room extended stay hotel on the tract.

The township paid $3.65 million for the property in 2020. The money was provided through a combination of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres program, the Mercer County Open Space Assistance Fund and the Lawrence Township Open Space Fund.

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