Advertiser-News (South) - December 6, 2001 issue
Who is Sabotaging the Franklin Rails to Trails
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
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
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,