The Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve will be undergoing some improvements over the course of the next year, including new bridges connecting the trails that wrap around the lake formerly known as the Haledon Reservoir.
Borough Mayor Frank Bivona would like to see the changes happen sooner rather than later.
“Our hope is to complete the project by the end of this year, but it may be a little difficult finding the right bridge and DEP permits,” he said.
He foresees the bridges being built by next spring, at the latest.
Local Boy Scout Troops have already laid a few wooden planks so that visitors can easily cross some of the brooks and streams that twist through the trails, but larger bridges would allow hikers to cross over other, more substantial, parts of the lake.
In the meantime, Bivona will be holding a community hike at the preserve to promote a wellness campaign on Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. — nature enthusiasts can join him to trek through the park to improve their health.
“It gets a little muddy, but I want to try to get people out, taking in the beauty of the preserve,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s going to be a hike, not a walk.”
Since opening a little over a year ago, the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve has served as a haven to local residents.
Frankie and L.J., both 18, of North Haledon came to the park recently to sit on a picnic table and talk, the placid lake stretched out before them.
“We come occasionally. It’s peaceful,” Frankie explained.
“We just come down and enjoy the view and fishing. The walk is nice,” L.J. said.
The park serves as an escape from the suburbia that surrounds it, according to Mike Higgins of North Haledon.
“I’m from California so I’m used to [this kind of thing] being 10 minutes away," he said. "When I heard they were opening it again I was like, 'Great, somewhere to go and take a walk and see something pretty without having to go up to Bear Mountain.’”
He added that the bridges could help to make the trails a little less confusing. As it stands right now, hikers can’t walk all the way around the lake and instead have to retrace their steps after a certain point.
"Bridges are cool, if it’s just a foot path. I wouldn’t want someone driving through here. This is about being in the woods not about having people cruise past in their vehicles," he added.
The preserve’s expansion will be funded by local resident donations and County Open Space Grants, and is part of $300,000 worth of projects to spruce up Franklin Lakes. That initiative will eventually include new basketball courts on Pulis Avenue, improved playgrounds, and more benches and tables for senior citizens, according to the mayor.
The efforts at the Nature Preserve are just the first installment of this plan.
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