MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Morris County’s Open Space Trust Fund Committee tonight recommended that the Board of County Commissioners approve $2.13 million to acquire and preserve a total of 34.6 acres in 2022 Open Space projects spanning five towns.
The recommendations, covering properties in Boonton, Boonton Township, Hanover, Wharton and Mount Olive, were presented to the Commissioners with recommendations for approving the projects during the board’s public work session in Morristown. The parcels targeted for preservation range in sizes from .3 of an acre to almost 19 acres.
The Commissioners will make a formal decision later this year on whether to accept the recommendations.
“This is an important part of what we do here in Morris County as the Board of Commissioners. Each year we carefully review whether to preserve areas with our open space funding, as well as whether to restore historic sites and expand our trail systems. It is part of a regular analysis of the best use of trust funds to protect and improve upon a quality of life enjoyed by all of our residents. Our parkland is second to none, our successful historic preservation trust fund is in its 20th year and since 1994, we have preserved nearly 17,730 acres of open space, which is larger than the Township of Parsippany,” said Commissioner Director Tayfun Selen.
Jay Thomson, who chairs the 15-member Morris County Open Space Trust Fund Committee, presented the recommendations to the Commissioners.
“It has been another great year for the Open Space program in Morris County. The county continues to show tremendous support to its towns by helping them to be proactive in preserving open space so that its residents have the opportunity to have a place to enjoy the outdoors close to home. This program is one of our county’s crown jewels that we can all be proud of. Morris County continues to be a great place to live and work.” Thomas said.
Funding for open space acquisitions and preservation comes from the voter-approved Morris County Open Space & Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, which is generated by a special county tax. The funding source also is used for farmland and historic preservation, county parkland acquisition, trail construction and the purchase of residential properties prone to flooding.
Since 1994, the Morris County Open Space Program has awarded $320,060,878 in grants for 490 applications. Applicants have successfully closed on 421 of those projects, preserving 17,728.24 acres. This is all in addition to lands that have been preserved and improved through the other Preservation Trust Fund Programs: Farmland Preservation, Historic Preservation, Flood Mitigation and Trails Construction.
2022 OPEN SPACE RECOMMENDATIONS:
Historic Turntable Property Adjacent to Grace Lord Park
- Applicant: Town of Boonton
- .30 acres
- Recommended Award: $175,000
- Description – This property is located northeast of Rockaway Street and Morris Avenue and contains the historic remains of a train turntable. It is directly south of Grace Lord Park, a public parking lot and preserved lands containing the Rockaway River. The Town plans to restore the turntable and incorporate it into the larger adjacent park. Boonton is actively improving Grace Lord Park with the restoration of its many historic features and is undertaking a comprehensive trail plan that will connect the turntable with the other natural and historic points of interest.
- Applicant: Township of Boonton
- 18.68 acres
- Recommended Award: $280,000
- Description – Located to the southwest of Powerville Road and Rockaway Valley Road, this property is adjacent to parklands managed by the Morris County Park Commission as part of Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area. The environmentally sensitive wooded tract serves as habitat for threatened and endangered species and contains a tributary of the Rockaway River. Acquisition would enhance trail connections throughout the region, with connections to Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area, the Rockaway Valley Airdrome Fields and surrounding preserved properties.
Bee Meadow Greenway – Phase II
- Applicant: Township of Hanover
- 1.64 acres
- Recommended Award: $220,000
- Description – Located to the west of Reynolds Avenue, south of Clay Street, this acquisition continues the expansion of Bee Meadow Park in the heart of Hanover Township. The flat, open property complements other acquisitions in the Bee Meadow Greenway. Hanover envisions use of the site for picnicking and light recreational activities in the short term. Long term use includes recreational fields and supporting facilities in conjunction with the existing facilities at Bee Meadow Park.
Budd Lake Dock Extension
- Applicant: Township of Mount Olive
- 9.14 acres
- Recommended Award: $82,000
- Description – This property is located off Sand Shore Road, near its intersection with Netcong Road. Mount Olive plans to utilize the property to expand public access to Budd Lake by installing a fishing pier and boat dock. Acquisition would connect the township owned properties on either side of this lot to create 340 feet of combined frontage along Sand Shore Road.
Acquisition of Land for Creation of Orchard Mine Park
- Applicant: Borough of Wharton
- 4.84 acres
- Recommended Award: $1,373,000
- Description – This property is located on North Main Street across from Harry Shupe Boulevard, adjacent to Washington Forge Pond. Wharton plans to transform the property into a passive recreational park which highlights and complements the pond. The park’s design will utilize natural features and the history of the site, including pedestrian access to the waterfront of the pond via trails; the use of a viewing platform with seating; a plaza in the approximate location of Orchard Mine; the use of meadows and a native garden along the lakefront; a rain garden; and an allée of trees along the entrance to the park.