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Advertiser-News (South) - December 6, 2001 issue


Who is Sabotaging the Franklin Rails to Trails Project?

To the Editor:

In the spring of 2000, Franklin Mayor James King appointed a committee to investigate the merits of a State of New Jersey proposal to turn long abandoned railroad beds into recreational trails in the Borough of Franklin. The new trails would provide straight, level walking and cycling paths and a connector between the two most famous mines in America: Sterling Hill in Ogdensburg and New Jersey Zinc in Franklin.

It would also provide a historic view of the old mining operations and a revitalized Main Street. Illustrated signs along the way would explain each point of interest and its history. All of this at no cost to the Franklin taxpayer.

The committee visited an operating trail in Lambertville, NJ. Property owners, police and church officials, and a nursery school, all adjacent to, and sometimes right on top of the trail, had nothing but praise for the trail and considered it an asset to the community.

The committee came to the conclusion that this trail concept would be an invaluable asset to Franklin; just the boost the town needed. Further investigation into the financial impact on the town showed that there would be virtually no loss in revenue.

In fact with the project, in adding to the Main Street Revitalization, property values would almost certainly rise.

A public hearing was held. Public input was taken. Out of 19 people who spoke only six were against the project. The Franklin Town Council approved the project and it was left for the State of New Jersey to get things rolling. But here we are, 16 months later, and the project is close to being abandoned.

Why? Because a small group of malcontents, not satisfied with the democratic process, is vigorously trying to sabotage the project by spreading lies and fear to property owners and officials. Stories of perverts lurking behind every tree and rock along the trail. Fairy tails of muggers hiding in the shadows. Imagined fears of loss of property value. All the things that have never happened on the other trails in Sussex County.

These very issues were investigated in great detail, especially since four committee members had children in the Immaculate Conception School behind which the trail would pass. In no case whatsoever did the committee come across any statistics that indicated any type of trail anywhere had become a crime problem. In fact, an interview with the police director in Lambertville revealed quite the opposite. Their trail had become a safe and clean community asset. A pastor with a church and nursery school along side the trail echoed his feelings.

So, who are these people in Franklin who are working behind closed doors?

Are they elected officials? Are they school or church leaders?

Are they people who only pretend to work in Franklin's best interests while gaining their own comfort at our expense?

Whoever they are, they have narrow, closed minds painted into a corner by unfounded fear and misinformation fed to them by others.

They stand in the way of the town's best chance in decades to re-grow itself; to shine again and shake off the dust of the mines that closed 50 years ago.

John J. Christians,