As Medford Township prepares to get quotes for the mowing of its open space maintenance areas, an ongoing problem resurfaced at last week’s town council meeting.
The soil erosion around the creek in Medford’s dog park has been an issue that continues to grow over time, as no measures have been taken to help preserve it.
When the dogs go in the water, they dig around the banks and wear away at the roots of the trees, further creating a tree loss problem.
There are two fields at Freedom Park that give easy access to this creek, so council has proposed to only mow these two fields twice during the season to deter people from going back to them, which, in turn, will also deter them from using the creek.
The group is looking to temporarily restrict access until it can at least stabilize the state of the creek and the trees surrounding it. The frequent usage of the creek over the years has proven to be too much, so the township is looking to preserve the asset by implementing this plan.
This process would entail laying down a mat structure followed by applying seed over it. When the seed begins to grow, the township plans to let it stabilize for at least a year.
Councilman Christopher Buoni initially argued there’s no point in having the creek if they’re not going to allow people or their dogs access to it.
“If it’s something people are enjoying, I don’t want to restrict access to it because we don’t like the way it’s going,” he said.
Buoni also acknowledged there are other purposes the creek serves, but council is not in a position to decipher which use of the creek is most important.
“If it’s an asset people are using, then our role is not to stand in the way of people exercising their right to use the public property but rather to facilitate it in a way that is safe,” he said.
Township manager Kathy Berger agreed with Buoni’s point against restricting access to the public property but also pointed out the township is paying for that access.
This also takes into account the damage being done by people who utilize the creek from other towns.
“If we don’t address this, the trees are going to fall, which in turn puts more on our services because we get calls from the people utilizing the paths and everything, demanding that we come clean it up,” Berger said.
The township is not going to prevent access from the surrounding fields by law. Instead, it plans to not mow them to deter people from wanting to go back there.
Buoni admitted to being wary of restricting access to the area but understands if it is a temporary measure to promote the long-term upkeep of the asset.
Council also decided to put signs up to notify folks that this short-term measure is being done to promote long-term stabilization.
“Just a friendly pardon us while we redecorate kind of thing,” Buoni said.
Freedom Park representatives were not thrilled about this happening but understood why it needs to be done.
Buoni acknowledged the council is aware the shutting down of this creek will likely just push people to use the other creek areas.