By AUBRIE GEORGE | The Moorestown Sun
Four residents from the Moorestown Trails Advisory Board are hoping to build the second in a series of interconnecting biking, walking and running trails throughout the community this summer.
Group members have targeted a 2.5-mile path of township-owned open space off of Westfield Road, known as the Swede Run Fields, for the location of the first trail they plan to build.
The first in the network of paths was a 3-mile woodchip trail surrounding Moorestown High School and the William Allen Middle School that was built entirely by the Moorestown cross country team in 2008. The team raised more than $30,000 and dedicated more than 600 hours of work to construct the track themselves.
Plans for the Swede Run Trail location include a woodchip trail that travels along the perimeter of the land. That land is not currently accessible to the community, but members said it offers an ideal setting because of impressive views of open space as well as its proximity to an existing bike path as well as to the cross country team’s trail.
Members of the Moorestown Trails Advisory Board hope to use the same model of fund raising and community volunteerism to build the rest of the trails that are planned. Board members Bob Bickel and Larry Friedman said they hope to recruit residents in order to construct the Swede Run Trail this summer.
“We need volunteers to lay the woodchips because it cuts labor costs and it also provides a fun, community event,” Bickel said.
Friedman said a volunteer effort to construct the trail would also cause people to invest in maintaining the trails.
“It will breed a built-in network of people who want to care about the trails,” Friedman said. ”As they use them and walk on them, they’ll pick up any litter and clear loose branches.”
The board received approval from Town Council to proceed with the Swede Run Trail and have since implemented a private fund-raising campaign in hopes of reaching a $75,000 goal for the first phase of the project.
“Initially, we reached out to the running community because they’re the most impacted by this project,” Bickel said. “And we’ve gotten a positive response.”
Bickel said the group is also seeking corporate donations. Corporations that donate will receive recognition through signage and mile-markers set up along the trails once they’re built, he said. The group also applied for a matching grant of up to $25,000 from the state Department of Environmental Protection and won’t hear back on the status of that grant until after the summer, Friedman said.
As of last week the group had raised about $15,000, board member Robert Hill said. Bickel said the bulk of the costs to construct the trails comes from hiring a professional to lay a four-inch bed of gravel before the woodchips are spread. Every few years they will need to lay a new layer of mulch over the trails.
“Fortunately, the mulch is the lowest cost,” he said.
Eventually, the group hopes to work with the township in order to get some open space funds allocated toward the project.
“If we’re able to have access to that funding, it would certainly allow us to move faster,” Bickel said.
The group has plans for a 1.2-mile trail on county open space at the Winner Farm property on Centerton Road and 2 miles of township-owned land at the Wesley Bishop Fields off Church Street. Members also hope to build an extension of the Pompeston Creek Trail to potentially connect it to the trail off Church Road. The trails won’t pose a threat to farmland and they aren’t located on wetlands, Bickel said.
Bickel said once the trails are constructed, it will provide space for community groups, such as walking and running groups, to participate in group activities.
“The trails promote healthy lifestyle and a community aspect which Moorestown is known for,” Bickel said.