Posted Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Projects in Chatham Borough, Chatham Twp, Denville, Hanover, Mendham Twp. and Netcong      

The Morris County Board of Freeholders received a recommendation yesterday to fund a half-dozen recreational trail projects in six towns across the county at a cost of $827,412 as part of the four-year-old Morris County Trail Construction Grant Program.

Betty Cass-Schmidt, chairwoman of the Trail Construction Grant Advisory Committee, presented the 2019 grant recommendations to the freeholders yesterday at their work session in Morristown.

Projects suggested by the Freeholder Board-appointed committee include county grants ranging from $86,421 for the Arbolino Park Pedestrian Bridge and Trail in Netcong, to $264,752 requested for the Pitney Farm Historic Park in Mendham Township.

2019 Summary of Recommendations

Project Applicant Project Name Funds Requested Trail (Distance & Surface)
1 Chatham Borough Garden Park Pedestrian Walking Path $88,289.63 0.25 miles (porous pavement)
2 Chatham Township Hilltop Walking Trail $119,961.60 0.70 miles (gravel)
3 Denville Township Den Brook Park Trail $95,656.00 0.62 miles (gravel)
4 Hanover Township Bee Meadow Pond Nature Trail $177,331.50 0.50 miles (gravel)
5 Mendham Township Pitney Farm Historic Park $264,752.50 0.50 miles (porous pavement)
6 Netcong Borough Adbolino Park Pedestrian Bridge & Trail $86,421.50 1,000 feet with bridge replacement
Totals: $827,412.73; 2.6 miles

Additional trail grants were recommended for projects in Chatham Borough, Chatham Township, Denville and Hanover Township for a total of 2.6 miles of trails.

The freeholders are expected to formally vote on the grant recommendations at the board’s Dec. 11 public meeting at 7 p.m. in Morristown.

Muriel Hepner Park bridge replacement project in Denville received 2018 county trail grant

Muriel Hepner Park bridge replacement project in Denville received 2018 county trail grant

“Trails that are built across Morris County, and which are financed with the help of these county grants, makes our vast open spaces accessible to all residents, improving our quality of life,” said Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “These investments in the county’s recreational infrastructure not only enhance tourism, but make our county an even more attractive place to live, work and locate a business.”

Funding for the recommended trail projects would 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 make trail development an allowable use for a portion of the trust fund money. The first grants were awarded in 2016.

“The program, now in its fourth year, continues to evolve as we learn from each successive year, and modify the program accordingly,” said Cass-Schmidt.

In an effort to help applicants submit successful projects, the program staff holds springtime workshops and pre-application meetings to share advice and answer questions about what makes a trail project a good candidate for the trail grant program, said Cass-Schmidt.

She explained that only construction-ready projects are considered for funding, and that the program operates on a reimbursement basis. The program requires municipalities to prepare their projects for construction and to contribute a minimum of a 20 percent funding match, which can be in the form of dollars or in-kind work.

Freeholders Get Recommendations to Fund Six New Trail Projects

The Liffy Island board walk project in Jefferson Township received a 2017 county trail grant

By the Numbers

Including the 2019 award recommendations, the Trail Construction Grant Program has awarded 26 grants totaling $2,705,470 since 2016.

More than one-third of awarded projects, or 38 percent, are built on property purchased through the county’s Open Space Trust Fund Program. Five of the funded projects are completed.

Twenty-three of Morris County’s 39 municipalities have submitted grant proposals since 2016.

To see the list of 2019 projects, visit https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Funding-Requested-Summary-2019-Website.pdf

For the 2016-18 summary of projects visit: https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Trail-Construction-Grant-Award-Summary-2016-to-2018.pdf

Program Nuts and Bolts

Permissible Uses and Projects, include construction of new trails, both motorized and non-motorized, and trail enhancements, including improved 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;
  • 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.

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