Volunteers came out to Trenton’s North Ward with shovels, gloves, trash bags and rakes on Saturday to clean up an unofficial part of the D&R Trail as part of Celebrate Trails Day.
Wills Kinsley, Director of Operations for Trenton Cycling Revolution, said that this opening is located at Sherman Avenue and Cortland Street.“ This…is kind of an unofficial cut-through that leads to the East Trenton neighborhood where there’s a lot of stuff going on,” said Kinsley. The towpath connects the East Ward to Downtown Trenton, creating an access point for cyclists, runners, and hikers to visit downtown Trenton without using roads.
“These trails are incredibly useful for just getting around the city… the train station is a two-mile ride…downtown is also about less than a two-mile ride. If you road in the other direction to Mulberry Street, you can get to the farmers market,” Kinsley said.
This event was part of a more considerable effort across Mercer County, with trail clean-ups happening in West Windsor and the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail. Sonia Szczesna, Director of Active Transportation for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said that they decided to focus on a community connector this year.
“There are a lot of residents in the East Trenton neighborhood that are in a way, cut off from the trail because there’s not an official access point. But there is this unofficial one that people use,” said Szczesna, who explained that before the clean-up, the trail wasn’t visually appealing to the public. “It just really wasn’t welcoming. It’s a site of illegal dumping. There’s a ton of trash and it’s just generally overgrown. So we decided, you know, let’s come out let’s make it nicer.”
She explained that this clean-up will help connect people to over 800 miles of trail across the Greater Philadelphia and New Jersey. “Trenton is the place where a lot of those trails converge. So you could take the trail from here down to Philly. You could go up to Lawrence and Hopewell. You can go over to Bucks County. So we’re building out this network,” Szczesna said.
In addition to Trenton Cycle Revolution and Tri-State Transportation Campaign, the East Trenton Collaborative were shoveling gravel, clearing weeds, and cleaning up the trail for East Trenton Residents. There were over a dozen volunteers who spent their morning cleaning the area. Shereyl Snider, East Trenton Collaborative Community Organizer, was one of the volunteers and said that this would improve options for residents along Sherman Street.
“To know that (residents) can come on a trail and be safe away from cars and to go on an adventure and get outside your city and to go to another city, is a wonderful,” Snider said. “This is people coming together to help other people…So this is positive. It’s inspiring.”
For residents like Faith Ann Pierson, a Trenton resident who lives right next to the trail, it will help her and her neighbors get access to it. “Because of the way the trail is set up, you don’t see it…the rest of the residents and the East Trenton Collaborative are trying to make it more appealing for people to use it.”
As the year goes there are hopes to improve the trail system across Trenton. Kinsley explained that this was just day one of trail repair. “I’d call this a pilot program. In terms of the signs we’re putting up today, we’re also adding some wayfinding signage. So the idea is, once the attention is on this zone, to work with other larger partners in the area… to make this more official and make it so that the signage is cohesive all the way up and down the trail,” Kinsley said.