Watchung Mountain Biking Resolution Back On

By John Bury | May 4, 2017

On the agenda for tonight’s freeholder agenda meeting:

10 Responses to “Watchung Mountain Biking Resolution Back On”

  1. Daniel Shays says:

    The Watchubg Reservation was entrusted to the Union County Government to preserve its natural state not to destroy it like they have been doing. Anything they touch they destroy. Lock the UCG crime cartel up!

  2. Marybeth Garry says:

    Mountain biking is fun but it does not belong in the Watchung Reservation. The 13.5 mile bike course, planned to eat up all remaining virgin wilderness, would destroy the beauty and peace that so many county residents go there for. It would harm, disrupt ,disturb and possibly destroy habitats that animals need to survive, as well as harm plant life and trees , that combined, ARE ,the very essence of the reservation.Nature is a great equalizer, rich or poor, sick or well, we are all one in nature. Nature is a wonderment, a healer, a soother. Our forefathers had the vision to preserve these lands, so the forests and inhabitants, as well as the beauty and peace , would survive forever for all citizens. Watchung is the only actual reservation in Union County,land set aside for nature loving activities…fishing, hunting, picnicking, hiking, swinging on swings, playing games ,horseback riding, camping, bird watching, exploring nature on our own or in the Trailside Nature and Science Center. In the stressful world we all live in, having the opportunity to experience the peace of nature, is quite a gift. Let’s keep Watchung Wild! It is up to us humans, to stand up for nature. All the critters,big and small,and plants and trees and bugs, deserve our protection and preservation, to ensure they exist forever and ever.
    Biking is currently allowed and enjoyed by many. Biking is permitted on the pavement, paved roads and paved paths. No biking is permitted in the woods, or on sidewalks…all common sense, and designed for safety for all visitors. The safety issues alone…how could we protect/prevent children from getting on the black diamond advanced course sections? Since there is no entrance point, no fencing possible. As creators of this attractive nuisance, we would be liable and end up spending, spending,paying on legal defense and judgements and settlements from injuries

  3. Ben Ebel says:

    How can you justify banning mt biking but support horseback riding? Horseback riding is more damaging. Each of your arguments above apply equally to horseback riding. Your discrimination is completely arbitrary.

  4. Marybeth says:

    Hi Ben, As long as you are calm and are polite, I will respond to your comments.You seem upset and I’d like to respect you with a response, but not going to duke it out as so many of the mountain bike guys seem to want to get personal and hostile and do battle.
    First,easy,horses: The Watchung Reservation was originally designed and planned with the stables..yes, all by Olmstead, in the early 1900’s. (If you want Historic Preservation info, that’s a different group.) So,here’s the comparison..The stable is very well organized.The horses are well cared for and respected.The horses stay on trails.About 90 percent of a trail ride is on flat ground, versus going up or down hill. Most of the ride is a stroll, regardless of what level rider you are.You never, never move any faster than a walk going downhill on a horse, as not to injure them (that”s a big difference,eh?) The riders have all the proper protective equipment (steel helmet) and have all signed legal waivers, preventing lawsuits. Riders are carefully led in small groups by county employees. The county knows, what horses are out and who every rider is in the reservation at every moment. The trail ride leaders are trained,experienced and excellent trail leaders who are directed as to which trails are to be ridden, depending on condition. Sometimes the trail leader , with group in tow, comes across a problem condition on the trail, and have to take intelligent action, with safety of the riders as their first priority.As a kid, out on the trail with the watchung troop, we once encountered a rabid black fox,wow was that scary! All visitors, union county residents and out of county residents can rent a horse to go on a escorted group ride(cost probably varies , in or out of county)so they can experience more of the reservation, than on foot, as well as the thrills of riding a horse and being in the forest with nature.There is also an economic value for the county with the stable, in that they receive fees for trail rides, lessons, boarding,sponsors,events, horse shows and more. The old original stable is now the Sheriff K 9 unit headquarters. The Summit Lane, current stable construction cost and moving expenses, were negotiated with the NJ Dept of Highways and added to the monetary exchange that union County Park Commission received for the land that had to be sold to the state for the route 78 “missing link”. I understand that beautiful new indoor ring building was a donation from a private person who loves the stables.So, remember how I said that everyone in the county (and out) had an opportunity to try out horseback riding, much, much, much less expensively than a private stable would be..and enjoy the reservation even more fully? Well with decent mountain bikes being costly, this course would actually discriminate against most of our Union County kids and adults that do not have the kind of disposable income that would afford them a good enough bike, a rack,helmets, gloves, bikes for the kids, etc. It would only be similar to the horse activity (as far as access to all, control, safety, liability) if the county owned and rented bikes, and only allowed rental bikes in the reservation, with group leaders and staying on trails and signing waivers. You would hate that! I know that will never happen, even though I believe that is the only the way the inclusion of a new activity,like this,would not be completely discriminatory to all, all, all county residents.I know you wont like that idea.And please dont even try to give me that bs about a free bike from Dairy Queen or a 100 dollar Walmart bike being made well enough to handle dirt,bumps and lumps.And as far as you would know what discrimination means, seriously, there are many towns in this county that schools don’t have playgrounds just parking lots, no town pool clubs, few children community opportunities any season, or rec center. Those children are lucky if the funding is granted to give them a lunch meal in the summer to make up for the meal they would have gotten in school. So really, stop using that word discrimination. And ps, if the bike group is truly so interested in kids learning about bikes, why not do something with the inner city kids and give them the 5 or so extra bikes in your garage. You know Ben, the most upsetting thing about this past several months of controversy is really how socially and morally bankrupt so many people seem. It is a base responsibility of each of us humans, to preserve nature, protect wildlife and fight hard for a better world, not so we can get something for ourselves. I will continue to stand up for the animals and the natural lands and would appreciate you doing the same. Its not glamorous or exciting to pick up litter or clean out a drain in the reservation, but i do that for the critters and the earth and I like being kind.

  5. Ben Ebel says:

    whats the difference between the “beautiful new indoor ring building [that] was a donation from a private person who loves the stables” you reference, vs the one which the taxpayers paid $2.3M for? According to The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders cut the ribbon today on a major renovation and expansion at the Watchung Stables, the County‚Äôs public horse riding facility, that included a new indoor riding ring to enable year-round use…The Freeholder Board awarded a $2.3 million contract last September to JC Landscape Construction & Management Co., Inc. of Pequannock to build the improvements. This was funded entirely by private monies?

  6. Marybeth Garry says:

    That’s my understanding, private donation. The county owns the land so of course they would have it built. So Ben, after all I wrote you a polite, fact filled don’t have any conversational point? Pretty sure you are the Ben Eber from Arizona,so not sure what your position or point is beside that you want mountain bike access in Watchung Reservation.Spoiler alert….ain’t going to happen . Not today, not ever in WatchungReservation.
    If you have any meaningful response..I’m here. If it’s just drama and trying to create conflict…then go away. Every time I see what the mtb community writes….it just proves that your gang are still the knuckleheads from the 90’s that got booted out…you guys blew it then and now representing themselves the same way. Careless, indignant , looking for a fight… such completely obnoxious comments ! Oooh its the outlaws, selfish, ride even a muddy trail or ride at night to disturb the animals kinda people. If this is the way you attempt to build support and rapport, maybe go talk to your grandma and have her remind you that it’s better to be nice, especially if your trying to get something.. so with that good luck to you.

  7. Ben Ebel says:

    Sorry my initial question seemed curt, I was trying to put context to what the County claimed in their annual budget.

  8. Marybeth Garry says:

    Surely you weren’t reading their financial statements or the annual budget. What you wrote is that the county awarded a construction contract. Doesn’t mention funding, taxpayers…you are just making the words attempt to fit your agenda. Sorry about citizens against mountain biking in reservations in Essex and union counties. Go somewhere where the land managers are weak and the citizens don’t care. Hey, one more life tip…just because you say something..doesn’t make it true.

  9. Ben Ebel says:

    i did indeed read it in their annual budget: in the County Of Union, New Jersey 2016 County Budget that was adopted on May 12, 2016, it states “our substantial investments in our parks…include: expansion and renovation of our Watchung Stables to include an energy efficient indoor riding ring.” And as I clearly referenced, the quote was from the County’s website that specified the same. it appears that the riding ring was paid by public taxpayer dollars.

  10. Email says:

    Ben Ebel. I also have heard of a large gift for the indoor ring. The big question is, “what’s your point” This started about our old age institution of a stable and you are for the mountain bike course replacing 13.5 miles of virgin natural land. And actually, that’s times two feet wide, only to get wider and sprout rogue trails destroying more habitat. So, doesn’t sound like such a good deal for our nature preserve. This would develop all of the remaining Wild land. So, I also say…Sorry, no bikes in the Watchung Reservation….buh bye