Posted Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Applications seeking funds to preserve 223 acres of open space and parkland in 12 towns have been received by the Morris County Preservation Trust.

The applications are for 15 projects and were filed by eight municipalities and five non-profit organizations. They are requesting a total of $12.4 million from the open space portion of the county’s Preservation Trust Fund.

The Preservation Trust is funded by a dedicated tax of 1 ¼ cents on each $100 of assessed property value. It is expected the Trust will be able to distribute approximately $7.5 million this year to help fund projects designed to preserve open space and farmland and protect the county’s drinking water resources.

Roxbury is seeking the largest grant among the municipalities in the amount of $1.75 million to help preserve 60.7 acres known as Shippenport Greenway-The Villages.

Morristown has requested a $1.575 million grant for its Early Street Garden project, and Long Hill has asked for $1.55 million for its Stirling Recreation Center project.

Other towns seeking open space funds are Denville, Mountain Lakes, Pequannock, Riverdale and Washington Township.

The non-profit Harding Land Trust has filed a grant application requesting $3.35 million to acquire 47.2 acres of open space in Harding and Morris townships from the estate of the late Congressman Peter Frelinghuysen.

Other non-profit agencies that filed open space applications are the Schiff Natural Lands Trust, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, The Land Conservancy of New Jersey and the Passaic River Coalition.

A 15-member committee will now thoroughly review the applications, visit the sites and make funding recommendations to the Morris County Freeholders in November.

Any of the 39 municipalities in the county and qualified charitable conservancies are eligible to apply for open space funding.

Since the Open Space Program began awarding grants in 1994, nearly 20,600 acres of open space in Morris County have been preserved.

Morris County voters approved the program in November 1992.