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Guyot Walkway to Undergo Rehab Project With NJDEP Grant Funds

Matthew Hersh

The Guyot Avenue walkway, a secluded path connecting Jefferson Road and Witherspoon Street, will undergo a widening and "beautifying" project thanks to a $50,000 New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection grant recently received by Princeton Township.

Primarily used by neighborhood residents and by students as a cut-through to the Valley Road playing fields, the path is in need of repair despite community efforts in the past several years to maintain the walk, residents said.

The project will provide for the rehabilitation of a number of areas of the walkway that have been undermined, including a section of the path between Carnahan and Witherspoon Street that is "substandard," according to Robert Kiser, Township Engineer.

"What we'd like to do is widen the path for bicyclists as well as pedestrians," he said, adding that the path, currently four feet wide, will be widened to six feet under the plan.

The project will also provide "buffer strips" between Carnahan and Witherspoon that will prevent cars that park along the area from opening doors into on-coming cyclists or pedestrians.

A resurfacing project for the section of Guyot between Witherspoon and Carnahan is also in the works, Mr. Kiser said, adding that Carnahan will also be repaved between Guyot and Henry avenues.

Dennis Stark, a Henry Avenue resident who is the chairperson of the community organization to improve the walkway, said that even before this project was proposed, the residents had seen problems they decided to tackle themselves. "A bunch of us started walking through there and thought it was a real jungle. It was filled with poison ivy. It was a real dumping ground."

"Basically, a bunch of us got together and said 'let's clean it up' and we felt we were doing the right thing," he added. "We went from that area being nothing but wild honeysuckles and briar-type of wild roses and poison ivy to more diverse plantings."

The neighborhood group, otherwise known as the Guyot Streamwalk Group, was established about 15 years ago and has over 40 residents from the neighborhood that includes Harris Road, Carnahan Place, Henry Avenue, Moore Street, and Jefferson Road. In the past, the organization has worked with the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed in maintenance efforts for the stream that runs along the walkway.

Spring and fall "work weekends" are also part of the year-round clean-up efforts of the walkway group, Mr. Stark said. Area garden centers like Agway and Obal Garden Market have donated supplies and neighbors have given money for plants and equipment. He added, however, that volunteer families donate time throughout the year to collect trash and other debris.

According to the Township's Mr. Kiser, the walkway is "heavily used," creating a link for students who walk to and from John Witherspoon Middle School, Princeton High School, and Community Park Elementary School.

The adjacent stream is a tributary to Mountain Brook and runs along a large extent of the pathway. Guyot Avenue was originally intended to be one, uninterrupted thoroughfare, but that idea was scrapped "years ago" out of concern that completing the roadway would jeopardize the life of the stream, Mr. Kiser said. Further, he added, the road could not be built in line with today's state environmental standards.

The project, which is slated to begin in April or May, will take about two to three months for completion, Mr. Kiser said.

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