Monday, November 20th, 2017

A special Freeholder Board-appointed committee today recommended funding a half-dozen recreational trail projects in six towns across the county at a cost of $583,165 as part of a the Morris County Trail Construction Grant Program that was initiated by the county governing board in 2016.

Sign for Patriots Path, Rock RoadRecommended grants range from $42,400 for the Summerhill Park Train in Madison to $240,000 for Jefferson Township for the Liffy Island Boardwalk and Trails project.

Trail grants also included for projects in Hanover, Morris Township, Washington Township, and Wharton.

The freeholders are expected to formally vote to approve the grants at their Dec. 13 meeting.  Funding will come from the county’s voter-approved Preservation Trust Fund. In 2014, voters approved a ballot question by a margin of 3 to 1 to permit diverting a portion of that fund to trail development as an allowable use of the money.

“This is an excellent investment in the county’s recreational infrastructure that will improve the quality of life for all residents, making Morris County a better place to live and work and locate a business,’’ said Freeholder Christine Myers, who is the board’s liaison to Planning and Preservation. “It also enhances tourism options, providing even more recreational opportunities for visitors to our county.’’

“This second round of projects continued to show a diversity in trail projects supporting each town’s interest of connecting their communities to both local and regional trail networks.’’ said Morris County Park Commission Executive Director Dave Helmer. “As a result, residents of Morris County will have an additional 4.1-miles of trails to walk, run, hike, bike and horseback ride on in the next few years as these projects are completed.”

Entrance to the Columbia Trail

Entrance to the Columbia Trail in western Morris County

This county program award grants annually to qualified applicants from the county’s 39 municipalities to build new recreational trails on municipal open space, thereby enhancing recreational opportunities for all Morris County residents.

The initial round of grants, approved in late 2016, funded 13 trail projects at a cost of $661,000.

To see the full list of 2017 projects, visit:  https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Trail-Handout-Nov.-20.pdf

For the 2016-17 summary of projects and spending, visit: https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Trail-Program-Summary.pdf

The 2017 grant recommendations were outlined to the freeholders this morning at their work session in Morristown by Trail Committee Chairwoman Betty Cass Schmidt, who also is president of the Morris county Park Commission.

Bicyclist riding down the Traction Line trail

Segment of the Traction Line trail in Convent Station

Cass Schmidt explained that only construction-ready projects are considered for funding, and that the program operates on a reimbursement basis. The program relies on municipalities to provide planning and design of new trails and to contribute a 20 percent financial or in-kind match for the trail construction projects.

Permissible Uses and Projects, include:

  • Construction of new trails of various types (motorized and non-motorized);
  • Trail Enhancements to improve existing trails to accommodate increased volume and/or ADA compliance.

Funding is considered only if the land on which a trail is to be constructed is:

  • Located in Morris County
  • 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