Some aren't happy with the state's recent decision to forbid motor vehicle traffic down the dusty sugar sand road in Double Trouble State Park's Historic District to the White Bridge canoe and kayak access.
But the move is necessary, said state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Bob Considine.
"There have been signs up in the park for years stating that only authorized vehicles can drive through the historic village, which is on the National Register of Historic Places," he said.
Visitors largely ignored the signs and the rule wasn't strictly enforced, Considine said.
"But with increased visitation at the park in recent years, we’ve had some serious concerns about the safety of our park visitors on foot after several near-misses by vehicles driving at high speeds on what’s basically a one-lane road that goes to and from the drop-off point at White Bridge," he said. "We’re also looking to better protect this historic village.",
A new gate has gone up to prevent access through the central historic site, Considine said.
"Visitors can – and do – still park in the general lot near the village and walk their vessels to the White Bridge access point," he said. "The walk is about 3/10th of a mile."
The state's decision didn't sit well with some park visitors on Memorial Day weekend. A Facebook page with a petition has been created that already has over 900 "likes."
The Facebook page link is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Double-Trouble-State-Park-Locals-Lock-Out/269592409879826 .
"Governor Christie: Please
understand what is happening to a large group of outdoor loving people
who only want a safe access to a creek that many of us have enjoyed for
decades," a statement on the Facebook page says.
The amount of parking on Memorial Day surpassed the demand and some who were parked illegally received tickets, Considine said.
There are still three canoe and kayak access locations in Double Trouble State Park that are free for users and two other areas convenient for car access at Dover Forge off Dover Road and Ore Pond off Pinewald-Keswick Road, he said.
"Parks and Forestry is now looking into developing a new drop-point at Double Trouble or increasing parking in an already established area in the near future, Considine said. "Once that is done, no unauthorized vehicles will drive through the historic village or drop off at White Bridge."
Two local canoe and kayak companies can still use the road to White Bridge. But they pay for a special use permit for a limited time during the year. Unlike some state parks, admission to Double Trouble has always been free.
Double Trouble's historic district was once the site of a burgeoning timber and cranberry business. The original cranberry sorting house can be seen from Pinewald-Keswick Road. The sawmill, store, bunkhouses and a number of other buildings are still in the park, testimony to a once-vibrant business.
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