It’s been a long and bumpy road, but Vernon Township celebrated the opening of the Town Center Park & Pump Track and Town Center Bike & Walking Trail on Saturday morning.
Former Township Councilman Harry Shortway, who recently resigned from the council due to a recurrence of prostate cancer has been working on bringing the pump track and completing the trail system when he became mayor in 2015.
The efforts continued when he decided not to seek re-election as mayor and ran and gained a seat on the Township Council.
“The park is much more than a pump track,” Shortway said during his comments on Saturday. “It also consists of an American Disabilities Act path and hiking trial. It’s accessible for those with disabilities to see the magnificent views or hear birds sing and children laugh.”
The Greenway Action Advisory Committee began discussing a pump track in town in 2016, the former council passed legislation to provide the foundation and finance the two amenities.
It’s been a difficult road to bring the pump track to the Town Center as opponents of the project attacked the location of the pump track, a former Dept. of Public Works and insinuated that it was built on a toxic dump.
An environmental cleanup of the former DPW yard as completed in August 2021.
The trail goes through the former Baldwin Property, a purchase the Township Council tried to repeal earlier this year, but Mayor Howard Burrell vetoed the ordinance allowing the purchase for $289,000 to go through.
Burrell said the journey and been worth the time and effort.
“I want to ensure that you know and understand that this beautiful town Center Pump Track and this Town Center Trail could not have been possible without our work together,” Burrell said. “Without our efforts together and without our determination together.”