Posted Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Board of Freeholders Briefed on Grants Totaling $1.93 Million From Voter-Approved Fund

Morris County’s Open Space Trust Fund Committee has recommended funding five 2018 open space preservation projects at a cost of $1.93 million and totaling 47 acres located in five Morris County towns to the Morris County Board of Freeholders.

Included are projects in Boonton, Denville, Mendham Township, Morris Plains, and Roxbury.

Photo of the the scenic Leddell Preserve tract in Mendham Township showing a brook running through a forested area

This Leddell Preserve tract in Mendham Township will be preserved and added to Lewis Morris County Park

They range from a 1.42-acre tract next to a new housing development in Morris Plains to a nearly 18-acre expansion of Lewis Morris County Park in Mendham Township, through a preservation project spearheaded by the nonprofit New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

The freeholders, who received the recommendations yesterday,  will make their formal decision on the grant recommendations at the county governing board’s Monday, Nov. 19 meeting in Morristown. 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, trail construction,  and the purchase of residential properties prone to flooding.

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 Wednesday afternoon. The recommended awards range from $10,000 to $805,000.

Christine Myers

Freeholder Christine Myers

“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.’’

“This Freeholder Board, as those who have preceded us for the last several decades, fully understands that our high quality of life in Morris County is directly connected to the preservation of open space, farmland and historic sites,’’ said Deputy Freeholder Director Christine Myers. “These open space grants, which have been strongly endorsed by our residents, finance the creation of parks, connect trails, offer recreational opportunities for residents, and ensure that we have green spaces in each of our towns as great places to think or play.’’

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 12,495 acres in 36 of the county’s 39 towns since the awarding of grants started in 1994. Morris County voters approved the program in November 1992.

For a details on each project, plus a locator map and photos, visit:https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/divisions/prestrust/openspace/

 The following is a snapshot of recommended projects:

Photo of the The Phlanderosa tract in Boonton, which was once owned by the Phlan family

The Phlanderosa tract in Boonton was once owned by the Phlan family

Plahnderosa Property – Boonton

  • Applicant – Town of Boonton
  • Located in Boonton
  • 14.1 acre
  • Recommended grant: $265,000

This property is located in the southeastern portion of town at the Montville border, immediately adjacent to municipally owned and preserved Veteran’s Memorial Park.  The wooded property contains a pond and two tributaries of the Rockaway River. Acquisition would preserve water quality, expand resource-based recreational opportunities in this area of the town and significantly expand the adjacent preserved parkland.

The town proposes passive recreation for the tract, including path and trail connections.  The land was originally owned by the Plahn family.

Photo shows a portion of the wooded Knuth-Diocese property in Denville

Portion of the wooded Knuth-Diocese property in Denville

Knuth-Diocese Property — Denville

  • Applicant – Denville Township
  • Located in Denville
  • 9.03 acres
  • Recommended grant: $375,000

This level property is located at the intersection of Hill and Cooper Roads.  The Knuth Farm site, funded with the assistance of county open space dollars, is located directly east of the site. Denville plans passive recreation for the property, with the possibility of the expansion of the existing active recreational facilities on Knuth Farm in the future.

Photo of a section of the Leddell tract in Mendham Township

Photo of a section of the Leddell tract in Mendham Township

Lewis Morris County Park—Leddell Preserve Addition

  • Applicant – New Jersey Conservation Foundation
  • Located in Mendham Township
  • 17.8 acres
  • Recommended grant: $805,000

These properties are located on Leddell Road, between Jockey Hollow and the New Jersey Brigade area of the national park, south of Tempe Wick Road and Leddell Pond.  The acquisition is Phase II of a preservation initiative from 2008 that added 70 acres of parkland that surrounds the project to Lewis Morris County Park, which is the first park established by the Morris County Park Commission.

The upland forest on the property will protect the water quality of the Passaic River headwaters, a Category 1 tributary of the Great Swamp watershed.  The property will be owned and managed by the Park Commission, upon acquisition.

photo of open space to be preserved in Morris Plains

Open space to be preserved in Morris Plains

Malapardis and Johnson Road Open Space – Morris Plains

  • Applicant – Borough of Morris Plains
  • Located in Morris Plains
  • 1.42 acres
  • Recommended grant: $475,000

This lot is located at the corner of Malapardis and Johnson Road and is heavily wooded.  It provides wildlife habitat and water recharge to the nearby wells owned by the Southeast Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, located just to the east of Johnson Road.

The land is directly south of Vreeland Pond and a 197-unit apartment complex known as Signature Place.

photo of Righter Road property in Ledgewood section of Roxbury

Righter Road property in Ledgewood section of Roxbury

Righter Road Greenway – Roxbury Township

  • Applicant – Township of Roxbury
  • Located in Roxbury
  • 4.7 acres
  • Recommended grant: $10,000

Located south of the intersection of Commerce Boulevard and Righter Road, this densely wooded property consists largely of wetlands.  It is a key parcel to facilitate the Righter Road Greenway, which is designed to connect the West Morris Greenway with the Ledgewood Historic District, including parks, schools and commerce along the way.

A trail through the property would permit safe pedestrian passage to Righter Road, a narrow busy street with no sidewalks.