Monmouth Freeholders call for all parks and Henry Hudson Trail to open
The weather is getting nicer and after nearly 40 days of quarantine people everywhere want to be able to get outside and go places even if it's just a walk in the park.
The problem with that is state and county parks were ordered closed and many municipalities in New Jersey have followed suit.
It remains unclear, even though the reopening of parks, beaches and golf courses are under discussion, when exactly access will once again be granted to people to go for a walk, a swim or bring a nine-iron to their favorite green.
With the curve of cases being reported flattened and in Monmouth County where they lead the other 20 counties across the state with having the longest period between doubling of cases at 30 days, requests, urging and demands are going out to Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to start opening up parks and golf courses, even if it means some social distancing involved.
Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone has been making this request for a couple weeks and did so again at a press conference on Monday asking for the more than 30 parks and trails in Monmouth County to be reopened.
"We're continuing to work very hard with the Governor's office. I've said over and over that we've all been working together through this process. We're all going to agree and disagree on different items," Arnone told the media on Monday. "Personally, I do feel it's vital to keep these trails open."
After they were informed about the closure of the Henry Hudson Transit Trail, the freeholders responded with an immediate request to have it stay open.
"People actually go through that trail to get to work and it has been closed. We will continue to question that and move forward but we do need certain parks, trails, golf courses....with limitations and restrictions and they can be very stringent ones...but let's start that process," Arnone said. "We're going to stay strong on this in Monmouth County for many reasons...for our special needs population...for just the sanity of being inside especially when it gets quite warm."
Another concern is the spillover from local, municipal parks within Monmouth County.
"Keep in mind that our municipalities parks are open so that population is going to gravitate towards to let's say a small park in Middletown but the neighboring park is Thompson Park. Well if Thompson Park is closed, they're all just going to gravitate right to there," Arnone said.
The Henry Hudson Transit Trail, according to the Monmouth County Parks website, runs "12 miles in the northern section parallel to Route 36 from the Aberdeen/Keyport border at the intersection of Lloyd Road and Clark Street to the Leonardo section of Middletown/Atlantic Highlands border at Avenue D.
After sharing the road, the trail resumes at the Atlantic Highlands Marina and continues along Sandy Hook Bay to Popamora Point on Atlantic Highlands - Highlands border.
Currently, the trail runs four miles from Rt. 537 in Freehold to Big Brook Park in Marlboro. The trail then resumes at Station Road in Marlboro and continues for five miles to Church Street in Matawan. Future plans for the Trail include linking these two sections of trail and providing a connection to the original, northern section of the Henry Hudson Trail. The park totals 100 acres."
Freeholder Director Arnone along with County Park liaison Freeholder Lillian Burry released a statement on Tuesday behalf of the MC Board of Chosen Freeholders, regarding the closure of the Henry Hudson Transit Trail.
“When the Governor ordered the closure of all state and county parks on April 7, the Henry Hudson Transit Trail was not included as the Monmouth County Park System maintains that it is a transit way not a recreational trail. Meaning, many patrons use them to get from one place to another to perform essential functions, such as going to the grocery store, pharmacy, to get to their place of employment as essential personnel or to access public transportation.
The complete closure of this transit way causes serious safety issues that cannot be ignored. The Henry Hudson Transit Trail provides a safe way for Monmouth County residents to get to work by providing a way for residents to avoid walking on major highways.
By design, since there are no open lawns or recreational amenities, patrons have little opportunity to congregate and Monmouth County park rangers and local police have been monitoring the trail to respond as necessary to any reports of gathering.
The many mayors whose towns are affected by this closure stand in strong support of keeping the trail open to ensure the safety of their residents who will be forced to walk on major highways during its closure.
It is no secret that we are opposed to the closure of our County parks, which serve as a resource for the mental health and wellbeing of our residents, but the closure of the Henry Hudson Transit Trail is even more significant as it deals directly with the safety of our residents.
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders truly hopes that the New Jersey Attorney General will reconsider this closure as we are sure he would agree that the last thing we want to do during this global pandemic is put more lives at risk.
Further, we strongly urge Governor Murphy to reconsider the closure of all County parks.”