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Posted Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Included are projects in Denville, Hanover, Jefferson, Lincoln Park, Morristown, and Washington Township.

Morris County’s Open Space Trust Fund Committee today recommended funding six 2017 open space preservation projects at a cost of nearly $2.4 million and totaling 147 acres located in six Morris County towns to the Morris County Board of Freeholders.

photo of Foote's Pond/Loyola tract. View of pond on the site.

Foote’s Pond/Loyola tract in Morristown. View of pond on the site.

They range from one-acre purchases for flood storage and a pocket park in Lincoln Park and Hanover, to the purchase of an 11-acre undeveloped tract near downtown Morristown, 12 scenic acres in Washington Township, and a 118-acre forested tract in Jefferson.

The freeholders will make their formal decision on the grant recommendations at the county governing board’s Monday, Nov. 20 meeting in Mount Arlington. The county governing board traditionally has accepted the recommendations of the committee.

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.

Six Morris County Open Space Projects Recommended to Freeholders for $2.4 Million in 2017 Preservation Grants

Jonathan’s Woods tract view

Six Morris County Open Space Projects Recommended to Freeholders for $2.4 Million in 2017 Preservation Grants

Cataract Park tract in Washington Township

Former Morris Township Mayor Rick Watson, who chairs the 15-member committee, presented the recommendations to the freeholder board during its work session in Morristown this morning. The recommended awards range from $52,800 to $1.35 million.

“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.’’

“Freeholder Boards over the last several decades have clearly understood that the high quality of life in Morris County is directly connected to the preservation of open space and farmland and historic properties,’’ said Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “The current board continues to hear the voices of our county residents who have repeatedly voted to approve a special tax for these purposes, and have directed us to make preservation a priority issue.’’

“We thank the volunteers of the county’s Open Space Trust Fund Committee for dedication to thoroughly reviewing applications for preservation to ensure that we make the wisest choices when spending our open space tax dollars,’’ added Freeholder Christine Myers, who is the county governing board’s liaison to the Open Space Committee.

Freeholder Christine Myers

Morris County Freeholder Christine Myers

photo of Freeholder Director Doug Cabana

Morris County Freeholder Director Douglas Cabana

“These open space dollars finance the creation of parks, connect trails, offer recreational opportunities for residents, or just to ensure that we have green spaces in each of our towns as places to think or breathe.’’

A portion of the county’s Open Space Tax, which this year is 7/8ths of 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 12,247 acres in 37 of the county’s 39 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:

photo of Jonathan's Woods rock outcrop

Jonathan’s Woods rock outcrop

Jonathan’s Woods Extension – Denville

  • Applicant – Protect Our Wetlands, Waters and Woods
  • Located in Denville
  • 4 acres
  • Recommended grant: $245,000

Located in the northern section of Denville, these three properties are accessed off Hillcrest Road. The lands contain steep rocky slopes, with a predominant forest of mature oaks. Acquisition would continue expansion of the 600-acre Jonathan’s Woods north of Cedar Lake and enable further trail connections. Denville would take ownership of the acreage upon acquisition.


photo of Rockaway River WMA foot path

Rockaway River WMA foot path

Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Addition — Jefferson

  • Applicant – Trust for Public Land
  • Located in Jefferson
  • 118 acres
  • Recommended grant: $565,000

Located east of Route 15, this forested tract is adjacent to town ship and state lands that comprise the Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area. Existing trails throughout the property offer opportunities to link to preserved land located to the east. The property will offer passive recreation and wildlife habitat.

The state, township, and TPL have been pursuing acquisitions to the WMA to attain a large, contiguous land mass that eventually would extend from the county’s Mahlon Dickerson Reservation to the Newark Watershed.


Foote’s Pond/Loyola Acquisition – Morristown

photo of Foote's Pond/Loyola property trail

Foote’s Pond/Loyola property trail

  • Applicant – Town of Morristown
  • Located in Morristown
  • 11 acres
  • Recommended grant: $1.35 million

Located west of James Street, adjacent to Foote’s Pond Park, at the southern municipal boundary, the tract is gently sloping and completely forested. It is situated in the Green Brook watershed and has a high capacity for groundwater recharge. Preservation would create a 25-acre open space just one mile from the Morristown Green. It would be used for passive recreation and trail expansion, while offering protection to an abundance of birds and other wildlife.


photo of Cataract Park waterfall

Cataract Park waterfall

Cataract Park Expansion – Washington Township

  • Applicant – Washington Township
  • Located in Washington Township
  • 12 acres
  • Recommended grant: $52,800

Located east of Schooley’s Mountain Road, near the Warren County border, the heavily wooded tract is surrounded by existing Cataract Park. Acquisition of this property would allow for creation of a new trail to provide much easier access to the scenic waterfall at the top of a ridge in Cataract Park. It also would offer continued protection from further degradation to nearby Cataract Brook.

The township previously sought a county open space grant for a nearby tract but was unable to reach agreement with the landowner.


photo of Former Whippany Post Office property

Former Whippany Post Office property

Whippany River Blueway – Hanover Township

  • Applicant – Township of Hanover
  • Located in Hanover
  • 1 acres
  • Recommended grant: $90,000

The property contains the former Whippany Post Office, at the corner of Parsippany Road, Mt. Pleasant Avenue, and Old Parsippany Road. The tract flooded during Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, and the Post Office never reopened. The township proposes removing the abandoned building and creating a pocket park for the neighborhood.

The county grant would cover only the land purchase, with municipal and state Green Acres funds to finance demolition and creation of the park, which also would fit well into the township’s pedestrian and bicycle connectivity plan.


photo of wooded Lincoln Park tract

Lincoln Park tract

Midwood Flood Storage Area Addition – Lincoln Park

  • Applicant – Lincoln Park
  • Located in Lincoln Park
  • 1 acre
  • Recommended grant: $82,500

Located off Route 202/Boonton Turnpike and Midwood Road, at the oxbow section of the Pompton River, this one-acre property is the site of a former restaurant that closed in 2011 due to numerous severe floods. The borough will demolish the structure and parking lot, and return the site to a floodwater storage area and wildlife habitat.

The county grant would cover only the land purchase. This purchase compliments Lincoln Park’s active pursuit of flood buyouts of residential properties through federal, state, and county programs.