Spring clean ups for the Johnson Trolley Trail (JTT) and John S. Watson park are planned in April in observance of its twin environmental celebrations – Earth Day and Arbor Day. The Ewing Environmental Commission (EEC) has long had these locations in its sights and under the supervision of EC member and local landscape architect Dan Burke, plans are moving forward. What a great way to observe Earth Day and Arbor Day!
John S. Watson Park is situated on 66 acres off of Upper Ferry Road and is traversed by the West Branch of Shabakunk Creek. It is a lovely rural setting, great for family gatherings under a pavilion with picnic tables, BBQ grills and playground equipment. The park is named for John S. Watson, former Ewing resident, first African-American elected to the Board of Chosen Freeholders in Mercer County, and former six term legislator in the New Jersey General Assembly. He was the father of our current Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Cleanup and plantings will be done during the month along the Shabbakunk. On April 15th a crew of TCNJ Bonner student volunteers will don boots and gloves and clean-up debris and pull invasive plants from the banks. Later in the month, the Christina Seix Academy will send 70 elementary students to plant trees and volunteers from DRBC, Watershed Ambassadors will help with the planting.
2016 Americorps Watershed Ambassador Susan Lee has secured a donation of 300 small shrubs and 100 small trees for Watson Park and a few other locations. Ewing landscape company, Rock Paper Garden will secure supplies, prepare the tree area for planting, assist with any leftover planting, and then mulch and install deer fencing.
Johnson Trolley Trail
The Johnson Trolley Trail is the bed of an old trolley, known as the “Fast Line,” run by the Trenton-Princeton Traction Company in the first half of the 1900s. Fares were only 10¢. Today, you can walk or bike the right-of-way abandoned by the former trolley company for free on a restored trail. The trail is split up into two sections, north and south, which are split by Interstate 95. The Ewing section is the terminus of the southern section.
The JTT has been the recipient of TLC since 2012 when the Township received a grant to upgrade the existing trail. Ground work has been done and now remains only the planting of low-maintenance shrubs and grasses at certain parts of the trail and some refurbishing of the bridge over Shabakunk Creek. Following a bridge inspection by NJ DEP hazardous waste supervisor and 2016 Chair Joe Mirabella, the EC is set to commence with painting the first two weekends in April.
Make Every Day Earth Day
The EC also encourages Township residents, friends and neighbors to join with us for a cleaner Ewing and to make your yard a refuge in our ecologically impoverished suburban landscapes. Get outside and clean up your street of litter, clear storm drains. Help alleviate rain water run off to storm drains by directing roof gutters to the ground and installing rain barrels. Forget the pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Garden Nature’s way. Compost and keep your grass clippings and leaves. Better yet, remove some of that grass and plant a garden for wildlife; even a small one will help. And don’t forget to plant a (native) tree! Every yard can use one!