The Mercer County Planning Office has released a "Draft Baldpate Mountain Park Master Plan." This draft is the product of nearly two years of discussion and revision among the four principals who purchased the property in 1998 with public open space funds: Mercer County, Hopewell Township, the State of New Jersey and Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space. The complete plan has been placed in all Mercer County library branches for public review. A public meeting, at which comments will be heard, is scheduled for May 30 (details below.)
Though this latest revision of the plan is vastly improved over the original from a habitat and wilderness perspective, there is still room for improvement. Some positive changes include removal of a paved bike path along the ridgeline from the plan; reduction in the number of parking spaces at the top from 50 to 20 with parking added at the bottom; removal of a camping area from the woods; removal of pond enlargement. In addition, the forest management plan has been rewritten by a professional ecologist.
Some additional points to consider might include; elimination of a second access road shown on the plan, which ascends a steep grade to a second paved parking area near the pond; elimination of this second parking area; change paved parking areas to gravel or porous pavement; limit extent of interpretive signage; and reconsider the need for any paved bike path. Another important concern is that the Phase 3 improvements, as outlined in the plan, are vague. We also question the concept of "wildlife/bird observation areas." With conservation as a priority, this would be the entire mountain!
What you can do: Review the draft master plan and offer your comments at the Park Commission meeting (not a "hearing") on Thursday, May 30th. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Hopewell Township Municipal Building, 201 Washington Crossing-Pennington Rd. (Rt. 546) just west of the Scotch Rd. intersection. Parking is in the rear of the building. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you may send your comments to Frank Raggazzo, Executive Director, Mercer County Park Commision, 640 South Broad St., Trenton, NJ 08650-0068.If you would like to receive a copy of the main text of the draft master plan, without graphics and appendices, send an e-mail request to Pat Sziber at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also e-mail or call Pat at (609) 737-1189 if you have questions or need directions.
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