Letter to Editor:

The condition of the trail in Atlantic Highlands is a total embarrassment.   I read a recent Atlantic Highlands Herald May 6, 2010 column (Body Politic) and cringed at the excerpt below:

“….However, there is still work to be done and repairs to be made.  Everyone wants to know what the borough is doing and what the current status of the Trail.  Unfortunately, in the litigious society that we live in, the borough’s hands are tied.  Because of insurance matters, the borough is forced to keep the trail closed and hikers, bikers, and walkers go on the Trail at their own risk.  Until repairs are made, the borough does not want to be held liable for any accidents or injuries that could potentially happen on the trail…”

Many towns got wacked by the storm.  Yet their beaches are open and there is not garbage everywhere.  Rather than excuse filled articles, I suggest the entire M&C walk the entire trail together – pick up a piece of wood or plastic – throw it away.   Then direct their staff to clean the trail immediately. 

Many trail users and including our neighbor Sugie Young and her friends spent weeks filling contractor bags, starting within days after the March 2010 storm.   

With Ms. Thuss leading the way, volunteers of the town and off-duty cops showed up in droves to clean up the trail without the benefit of proper machines and equipment (I assume another insurance company directive).  The people worked very hard and the cleanup was inspiring.   We were told that the wood and large debris left on the side of the trail would be picked up.  Some was picked up – much is still there.  Why?

I see the Harbor vehicle ride the trail daily.  Every time I have seen it – the bed was empty.  Why are they not picking up the garbage?  Why is the metal pontoon still sitting there?  Does the town wish to borrow my blow torch? What exactly is the town staff doing about this mess except riding by and looking at it?

The cleanup could have been done in a few weeks with proper equipments (like when Marvin Barrett with a bulldozer and multiple dumpsters and 25 volunteers helped years ago to remove 200,000 pounds).  

The County portion of the trail (Popamora) and beach is near spotless with 15 volunteers with a front loader and dump trucks taking off 20,000 pounds with active staff removing debris starting right after the storm.  

I challenge the reader to go see the trail from Shore Drive and then walk into the AH portion.  You will know you are in the AH portion of the trail when you see the mess.

My wife and I walked the trail on June 16, 2010 (at our own risk ?)  and from Hudson Springs to Popamora Park all the wood stacked on the side by volunteers is still there.  While walking my wife and I both heard again that the town is saying the County is responsible for AH portion of the trail not being cleaned.  That is not true.

The AH portion of the trail starts in the harbor and extends to the last boardwalk down toward Highlands.  Once you hit pavement again you are on the County portion of the trail (the clean area).

The town has many people who would leap at the opportunity to help clean the trail.  Articles, excuses, insurance companies and lawyers will not get the job done.  Boots on the ground with shovels, light trucks and dumpsters will.

Very truly yours,

Mike Harmon
Atlantic Highlands, NJ