New Jersey Herald - June 9, 2002 electronic
Newton missing rail-trail opportunity
New Jersey Herald Editor's Mailbag
As the Rails-to-Trails Initiative nears the 15,000-
mile mark across the United States and countless communities benefit
dramatically from the valuable asset that a rail trail brings not only
to adjacent property values but in patronage of small businesses nearby,
Newton seems to be asleep at the switch (no pun intended). Riding or
walking through the town of Newton, one has absolutely no idea that
a trail actually goes through the town or can be taken to adjacent wildlife
areas. Newton has totally ignored this priceless asset as its Main Street
struggles to survive.
Countless other success stories should provide an easy
trail (again no pun) for the town's leadership to take to either designate
the trail themselves at only nominal cost, or to encourage and enable
the state Parks and Forestry Division to do it as it has done on other
trails in such an enriching manner. Either the government leadership
or the Newton Chamber of Commerce should embrace this opportunity and
provide a much-needed boost to the local economy.
A recent article in "Rails to Trails" magazine cited
that "trail proximity automatically raises property value by $5,000."
The study undertaken in Brown County, Wis., reported that combined property
value of two houses near the Fox River Trail has improved by a whopping
$280,000 since that trail opened in May 2001. Now wouldn't that be great
for Newton's tax coffers at no increase in operating expenses.
Rails-to-Trails has been embraced across our beautiful
country, not only by local governments and commerce groups, but also
by transit agencies that have added bicycle friendly equipment to their
fleets or trains and buses. From Amtrak, which has added baggage cars
with bike racks, to the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, which
has installed bike carriers on the front of its buses, it is getting
easier and easier to travel with your bike to the trail from great distances.
provides a location, overnight facility list including B&Bs, restaurants,
trail description and map to any place in the United States, while a
trail hiker or rider wouldn't be able to find his way through Newton,
and if that person navigated their way through the town wouldn't have
any sign from the Newton Main Street just a few blocks away that welcomes
them and their patronage.
As Newton battles surrounding towns for big boxes and
its Main Street is peppered with closed or struggling businesses, it
is a shame that this tremendous economic engine sits idling in their
yard (no pun).