Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Morris County’s Open Space Trust Fund Committee last night recommended funding six 2015 preservation projects, at a cost of nearly $1 million and totaling more than 113 acres in five Morris County towns to the Morris County Board of Freeholders.

Six Morris County Open Space Projects Recommended for Grants to the Freeholders  -- Board Decision Due Nov. 23
Washington Township site

Funding for the recommended projects would come from the voter approved county preservation trust fund, generated by a special county tax. That money also is used for farmland and historic preservation, county parkland acquisition and the purchase of residential properties prone to flooding.

Rick Watson of Morris Township, who chairs the 15-member committee, presented the recommendations to the freeholder board during its work session in Morristown tonight. The recommended awards range from $65,000 to $300,000.

Included are two projects in Washington Township and one each in the town of Boonton, Hanover, Jefferson and Mendham Borough. They range from a three-tenths of an acre which is vital to the re-creation of an urban park in Boonton to a 79 acre-tract in Jefferson in that will add to the completion of a large contiguous greenway from the southern portion to the northern portion of the township. 

The freeholders will make their formal decision on the grant recommendations at the county governing board’s Monday, Nov. 23 meeting, to be held in Florham Park.   

“The committee thanks the freeholders for recognizing the need for continued public support for this program, and understanding the need for towns to be able to preserve land for active and passive recreation and environmental protection,’’ said Watson. ”Many of these projects could not be done without County support.”

Six Morris County Open Space Projects Recommended for Grants to the Freeholders  -- Board Decision Due Nov. 23
Kathy DeFillippo

“Preserving our open spaces to create parks, connect trails, offer more recreational opportunities for our residents, or just to make sure we have green spaces in each of our towns as places to think or breathe, is so important to maintaining our great quality of life in Morris County,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo.

A portion of the county’s Open Space Tax, which this year is 1 cent per $100 of assessed property value, is used to fund open space preservation. Any of the 39 municipalities in the county and qualified charitable conservancies are eligible to apply for project funding.

The Open Space grant program has helped preserve nearly 11,976 acres in 36 towns since the awarding of grants started in 1994. Morris County voters approved the program in November 1992.

For specific details on each project and a locator map, go to http://www.morrisplanning.org/divisions/PresTrust/OpenSpace/index.asp 

The following is a snapshot of the projects that were recommended:

Morris Canal Greenway-Boonton Gateway

Six Morris County Open Space Projects Recommended for Grants to the Freeholders  -- Board Decision Due Nov. 23

  • Applicant – Canal Society of New Jersey
  • Located in Boonton
  • 0.3 acres
  • Recommended grant: $65,000
Situated between Main and Plane streets in the heart of Boonton’s Historic Downtown District, this innovative project seeks to recreate a once thriving urban park which also would serve as a gateway to the Morris Canal Greenway, an important regional historical resource.
 
Once restored, the urban park will serve as an economic development, historic and recreational asset for the Town of Boonton and a regional attraction for all.
 
 
Bee Meadow Greenway – Phase III
 
Six Morris County Open Space Projects Recommended for Grants to the Freeholders  -- Board Decision Due Nov. 23
 
  • Applicant – Hanover Township
  • 1.97 acres
  • Recommended grant: $165,000
This property is located west of Reynolds Avenue, north of Clay Street, adjacent to Bee Meadow Park. Acquisition will complement successful preservation efforts adjacent to this popular park, which features recreation fields and an amphitheater. 
 
The property will be used for passive recreation, including walking paths to the park. Future plans may include a practice field for active recreation programs.
 
Babbling Brooke
 
Six Morris County Open Space Projects Recommended for Grants to the Freeholders  -- Board Decision Due Nov. 23
 
 
  • Applicant – Jefferson Township
  • 79.36 acres
  • Recommended grant: $300,000
Located west of Taylor Road, this forested tract is surrounded by lands owned by the state for the Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area. Existing trails provide opportunities to link to these preserved lands and town owned properties to the west. The property will be managed for passive recreation and wildlife habitat.
 
Jefferson, in concert with the state, has pursued acquisitions in this region for many years to attain a large contiguous mass of preserved land that will eventually extend from Mahlon Dickerson Reservation to the Newark watershed lands, an area of more than 3,000 acres.
 

Scott Farm Open Space Acquisition
Six Morris County Open Space Projects Recommended for Grants to the Freeholders  -- Board Decision Due Nov. 23
 
  • Applicant – Mendham Borough
  • 10.57 acres
  • Recommended grant: $222,500
This scenic property is located south of Mountainside Road, east of Mountain Valley Park and west of BiArbor Arboretum. Morris County’s Patriot’s Path runs adjacent to the southern boundary of the property.
 
The Borough will preserve the pastoral view shed and utilize the historic farmstead property for passive recreation and trail connections to adjacent preserved open space and Patriot’s Path. The tract connects trails to Mendham Commons and Patriot’s Path, and provides a buffer to a tributary of the North Branch Raritan River, protecting water quality.
 
 
 Cataract Park Expansion
 
Six Morris County Open Space Projects Recommended for Grants to the Freeholders  -- Board Decision Due Nov. 23
 
  • Applicant – Washington Township
  • 10.62 acres
  • Recommended grant: $42,400
This property is located east of Schooley’s Mountain Road, near the Warren County border. The heavily wooded tract is largely surrounded by municipal Cataract Park, a passive recreation park containing a scenic waterfall at the top of the ridge.
Acquisition of this property would improve now-difficult access to the waterfall via an existing, unmaintained trail that ascends at a moderate grade and could further trail connections to Patriot’s Path atop Schooley’s Mountain.

It also would protect Cataract Brook, a Category One waterway, from further degradation.   


Patriot’s Path – Coleman’s Road Trailhead
 
Six Morris County Open Space Projects Recommended for Grants to the Freeholders  -- Board Decision Due Nov. 23
 
  • Applicant – Washington Township
  • 10.46 acres
  • Recommended grant: $168,000
This property is located at the corner of East Mill and Coleman’s Roads, near the Chester Township border. The township envisions the property as a regional trailhead and parking area for Patriot’s Path, which connects approximately one mile north of the site.
Existing features could be developed to host events, picnicking, fishing and other recreational activities. The acquisition promotes connection to the County’s Patriot’s Path and could serve as a regional destination and access point for hiking and biking in an area where it is limited.