Morris County’s Open Space Trust Fund Committee today recommended the award of county preservation grants totaling $1.96 million for six 2019 open space projects, totaling 164 acres located in six Morris County towns, to the Morris County Board of Freeholders.
Six Open Space Projects Recommended To Freeholders For 2019 County Preservation Grants
Included are projects in Chester Township, Denville, Jefferson, Morris Township, Mount Olive and Roxbury.
They range from a wooded 5.43-acre tract in Denville, south of Muriel Hepner Park, to 78 acres in Jefferson that are surrounded by the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, through a preservation project spearheaded by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.
Treadwell – Russia Brook Headwaters
These forested properties contain steep, rocky slopes and are surrounded by lands of Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, the largest park of the Morris County Park Commission. The lands contain the headwaters of Russia Brook, which drains to the Rockaway River. The area provides potential habitat for numerous species of concern and has a high ecological integrity. Preservation would expand the parkland and protect water quality. The lands will be owned and managed by the Park Commission upon acquisition and allow the expansion of trails.
The freeholders will make a formal decision on the grant recommendations at the county governing board’s Monday, Nov. 25 meeting in Morristown. The county governing board traditionally accepts recommendations of the committee.
Funding for the 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.
Jay Thomson, who chairs the 15-member Trust Fund Committee, presented the recommendations to the freeholder board during its work session in Morristown on Wednesday. The recommended awards range from $28,000 to $684,900.
“We would like to thank the Freeholders and the voters of Morris County for their continued support,’’ said Thomson. “All of the projects have enabled residents of our county to enjoy a higher quality of life by having many opportunities to enjoy open spaces close to where they live.
“As we celebrate 25 years of the county’s Open Space Trust Fund, this Freeholder Board and boards who have preceded us recognize that the deliberate and thoughtful preservation of open space throughout the County is part of what makes Morris County a great place to live, work, play and raise a family.’’ said Freeholder Stephen Shaw.
A portion of the county’s Open Space Tax, which this year is 3/4ths 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 12,542 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 visit: https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/divisions/prestrust/openspace/
The following is a look at 2019 Open Space Recommendations:
- Black River Fields
- Applicant – Chester Township
- 45 acres
- Recommended Award - $416,250
- Description - This property is located off North Road, across from Telcordia Park, next to the Black River Middle School and Chester Area Pool. The property serves as a regional recreational facility that is used by residents and recreational clubs of both Chester and Mendham.
- Chester Township has leased the property for more than two decades to utilize the lands for active recreation and has made significant investments in the park fields and parking areas. Acquisition would ensure the popular facility is protected.
- AMCHU Associates Property
- Applicant – Township of Denville
- 5.43 acres
- Recommended Award - $159,000
- Description - This wooded property is located west of Diamond Spring Road, south of Muriel Hepner Park. The acquisition complements preserved county and municipal properties in the region that have expanded the park over the past decade.
The Township plans passive recreation for the property, with the expansion of trails connecting to the adjacent park.
- Treadwell – Russia Brook Headwaters
- Applicant – Trust for Public Land
- Located in Jefferson Township
- 78 acres
- Recommended Award - $400,000
- Description - These forested properties contain steep, rocky slopes and are surrounded by Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, the largest park of the Morris County Park Commission. The tract contains the headwaters of Russia Brook, which drains to the Rockaway River.
The area provides potential habitat for numerous species of concern and has a high ecological integrity. Preservation would expand the parkland and protect water quality. The property will be owned and managed by the Park Commission upon acquisition and allow the expansion of trails.
- ValleVue Farm Preserve Acquisition – Phase 2
- Applicant – Morris Township
- 7.94 acres
- Recommended Award - $684,900
- Description - This is phase two of the plan to acquire ValleVue Farm. The property will be used for passive recreation with connector trails and scenic viewpoints.
The trails will connect to the existing trail network constructed under phase one, which leads to other Morris Township-owned properties, including a thriving community garden, and to Lewis Morris County Park further to the west. The acquisition would protect the integrity of the historic and environmentally sensitive Washington Valley region.
- Turkey Brook Extension
- Applicant – Mount Olive Township
- 17.24 acres
- Recommended Award - $275,000
- Description – This wooded property is located along Flanders-Drakestown Road at the southern boundary of Turkey Brook Park. Turkey Brook Park was funded 25 years ago during the first funding round of the county’s open space program, and the that program has helped fund adjacent parcels to expand the park over the years.
Mount Olive now seeks to expand it to its fullest extent possible with the acquisition of this tract. The township plans passive recreation and the possible addition of a trailhead for the property.
- Veterans Park Addition
- Applicant – Roxbury Township
- 10.5 acres
- Recommended Award - $28,000
- Description - Located off Emmans Road near the Mount Olive border, this upland forest is adjacent to Veterans Memorial Park. The wooded property is key to connecting two of Roxbury’s open space tracts via a trail system.
The terrain and proximity to existing trails in Veterans Park will enable a trail connection from the park to Emmans Greenway located to the south.
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