Westfield plans to blaze a new trail in Brightwood Park


Photo Jake Holtzman

Brightwood Park entrance

Will McGlynn, R2 Sports Editor

The Westfield town government has proposed a plan to create a beginner mountain biking trail in Brightwood Park to encourage cycling while creating a safer biking environment.

The addition of the bike trail to Brightwood Park has not been finalized and is in the process of being analyzed by environmental experts, among others, to determine if the addition is worthwhile. Councilwoman Linda Habgood said the trail is part of a larger effort to encourage the usage of local parks and biking as per the Town Master Plan. 

Councilman Scott Katz feels that under the current circumstances, parks are more important than ever, noting, “During the pandemic, the parks have become more and more important to our community. Many of us sought refuge at parks.”

According to westfieldnj.gov, the bike trail would not be exclusively for bikers, but would also be open to hikers. In order to keep hikers and bikers safe, the trail would be built up to the International Mountain Biking Association’s Guidelines for a quality trail experience which is a set of standards that help make the best path possible.

The trail would be constructed with the help of an organization known as the Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association. The organization has many volunteers who complete projects such as this across the state. Sophomore cyclist Liam Maurillo said, “The [JORBA] volunteers are committed to building and maintaining the trail and removing all tertiary unsustainable trails in the park that are damaging its fragile ecosystem.”

The trail has drummed up a lot of excitement among local bikers. Sophomore and avid biker Leo Schwartz said, “It would give kids like me a local place to mountain bike.” 

While the current plan only proposes a trail of about one to two miles, bikers are excited to have a local trail. Maurillo said that he thinks the new trail will be a great introduction for beginners and be a fun trail for intermediates. 

Unfortunately, Brightwood Park is not a thriving ecosystem at the moment. The town is making efforts to use the path construction as a way to help maintain Brightwood Park. Katz said, “[JORBA] has a core of local volunteers and they have volunteered to assist with the containment of invasive species that have run rampant in Brightwood Park.”

Despite the town’s plans to maintain Brightwood Park, some citizens are concerned that the environment will suffer from the path construction. Many houses in the areas have “Save our Sanctuary” signs out of concern for Brightwood park. 

The town insists they are doing everything in their power to address the concerns of citizens by holding multiple Q and A sessions to root out all citizen concerns such as traffic, environmental issues and more. 

Although a lot of decisions regarding the Brightwood bike trail could still change, the mission to improve local parks remains. Habgood said, “My only objective here is to make sure that whatever we do is an improvement [to the park].”