MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The Morris County Board of County Commissioners received a recommendation Monday night to award $926,498 in grants for ten trail projects as part of the six-year-old Morris County Trail Construction Grant Program.
This year, the recommendations include six grants for design and permitting of local trail projects. The four other projects recommended for funding by the Trail Construction Grant Advisory Committee are construction-ready and would add six-miles of trails in the county.
“A Design & Permitting Category was included in the 2021 trail grant program this year because it allows municipalities to adequately assess the needs of a proposed trail project and get a realistic understanding of construction costs. They can approach the project with a moderate investment that allows them to develop a manageable strategy for trail implementation,” said Betty Cass-Schmidt, Chairwoman of the Trail Construction Grant Advisory Committee.
Cass-Schmidt presented the 2021 grant recommendations to the County Commissioners tonight at their public work session in Morristown.
“Adding the Design & Permitting Category made a lot of sense. Looking over the advisory committee’s recommendations, we see that five of the six projects recommended for that category of funding involve towns applying for grants for the first time under the Trail Construction Grant Program. Trail development has taken on a new significance since the number of residents visiting our trails, as well as our parks and open spaces, increased fourfold after the pandemic hit last year,” said Commissioner Director Stephen H. Shaw.
If the recommended projects are approved by the Commissioners next month, Morris County will have dedicated nearly $4.25 million towards establishing 23.22 miles of trails in just six years since the inception of the Trail Construction Grant program in 2016. Funding for trail projects is derived from Morris County’s voter-approved Open Space & Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, which was established in 1992 and subsequently modified with voter approval in 2002 to establish a Historic Preservation Fund.
It was in 2014 that voters approved a ballot question by a margin of 3 to 1 to modify the fund again to allow trail development as a use for a portion of the trust fund money.
Also new to the grant program this year was the addition of a Minor Construction Category which supports funding for the construction of smaller scale trail projects that can be implemented without extensive engineering and regulation. No recommendation under that category was made in this funding round.
The County Commissioners will vote on whether to accept the grant recommendations at their Dec. 8, 2021 meeting.
The projects recommended for funding include:
Purpose of Funding: The purpose of the grant program is to provide recreational trail use opportunities, which benefit the communities and enhance the quality of life for the residents of Morris County.
Who is Eligible: Any of the thirty-nine municipalities in the County of Morris, New Jersey. Municipalities are limited to one application per funding cycle.
Permissible Uses and Projects: Design and Construction of new trails for both motorized and non-motorized uses, and trail enhancements, including improved trails to accommodate increased volume and/or compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Funding is considered only if the land on which a trail is to be constructed is:
- Located in Morris County
- Owned by the municipality in full and or via permanent easements
- Permanently 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 www.morriscountynj.gov/Departments/Trail-Construction-Grant-Program.