Monday, April 10th, 2017

FREEHOLDERS SEEKS TO AWARD $800,000 FOR MUNICIPAL PROJECTS — APPLICATIONS DUE IN JUNE

Patriot's Path signSome $800,000 in grants for recreational trails will be available to Morris County’s 39 municipalities through the 2017 Morris County Trail Construction Grant Program, which now is kicking off its application process.

Letters of intent from interested towns are due on June 1 and formal applications are due by June 30. Grant awards will be announced in the late fall. Workshops to review the program and educate applicants are set for April 25 and May 18.

Grants are awarded annually to qualified applicants from the county’s 39 towns to build new recreational trails on municipal open space, thereby enhancing recreational opportunities for all Morris County residents. The Board of Freeholders in 2016 approved awards of $661,000 for 13 trails projects in 13 municipalities, from Washington Township to Florham Park.

Freeholder Christine Myers

Freeholder Christine Myers

“The Trails Grant Program is a wonderful way to encourage our residents and visitors to explore and enjoy the beautiful landscape of Morris County,’’ said Freeholder Christine Myers, who is the board’s liaison to planning and public works. “The trails make our beautiful open spaces accessible to everyone, which improves the quality of life for all residents. This is another example of why Morris County is a perfect place to live and work and locate a business.’’

Funding comes from a portion of the county’s existing voter-approved Morris County Preservation Trust Fund, which will generate just over $8 million this year through a tax of 7/8ths of one cent per $100 of assessed property value.

In 2014, voters approved a ballot question by a margin of nearly 3 to 1 to permit diverting a portion of that fund to trail development as an allowable use of that money.

Walkers on the trail at the Loantaka Brook Reservation

Walkers on the trail at the Loantaka Brook Reservation

The program was initiated as a result of an outreach effort conducted as part of the Morris County Preservation Trust Fund Analysis & Strategy Report from September of 2014, in which nearly all municipalities responded that trail development was their highest priority.

Subsequently, the Freeholder Board authorized a ballot question in 2014, with voters strongly supporting use of a portion of trust fund money for trail development.

The program operates on a reimbursement basis only. Municipal applicants are limited to one request per funding cycle. The program relies upon municipalities to provide planning and design of new trails and to contribute a 20 percent financial match for the trail construction projects.

 Permissible Uses and Projects, include:

  • Construction of new trails of various types (motorized and non-motorized)
  • Enhancement of existing trails (improvements to design and/or surface type to accommodate increased use or to make the trail ADA compliant)
Bikers on Patriot's Path

Bikers on Patriot’s Path

Various aspects of project development are not eligible for funding as part of this grant program. They include, but are not limited to the following: land condemnation, land acquisition, trail feasibility studies, planning, design, sidewalks, improvements or construction to roads, lighting, running tracks (tracks used for races involving athletes at track meets), law enforcement personnel and activities, promotional materials (shirts, caps, pins, etc…)

Funding from this new program only will be considered if the land on which a trail is to be constructed is:

  • Located in Morris County
  • Owned by the municipality
  • Permanent preserved public parkland or private land with dedicated easements for public recreation use
  • On land with a permanent easement for public trail/recreational provided to the municipality
  • In full municipal control of all land and/or easements on which trail(s) are to be funded

The minimum grant amount is $5,000. The maximum grant award limit is defined as “no one award shall receive more than 60 percent of the funds available during each year’s funding cycle”. However, this exception can be waived if the pool of applicants is limited and/or the project is deemed to be a regionally significant project.

Applicants are required to submit a completed Letter of Intent that verifies property ownership, estimates costs, and approves pursuit of grants. Letters of intent from towns are due by Thursday, June 1, at 4 p.m. The application deadline is Friday, June 30, at 4 p.m.

Applicants will have an opportunity to attend the two scheduled Community Workshops:

  • Tuesday, April 25, at the Pyramid Mountain Visitors’ Center, 472 Boonton Avenue, Montville, N.J. 07045;
  • Thursday, May 18, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, at the Morris County Cultural Center, at 300 Mendham Road in Morris Township.

For more information, visit: http://planning.morriscountynj.gov/divisions/prestrust/trail/