MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The Morris County Board of County Commissioners received a recommendation Monday to award grants totaling more than $300,000 to construct two town trails as part of the eight-year-old Morris County Trail Construction Grant Program.
Betty Cass-Schmidt, Chairwoman of the Trail Construction Grant Advisory Committee, presented the 2023 grant recommendations to the County Commissioners during their public work session in Morristown. The 2023 recommendations included small, but significant trail projects slated in Madison and Morristown.
The Madison project involves a $169,203 grant to create a .6-mile stretch of gravel, with boardwalk, at Memorial Park to provide access to businesses around Main Street and recreational amenities.
The Morristown project, known as the Budd Street Pedestrian Trail, involves a $134,838 grant to create a new .26-mile trail connecting an existing sidewalk network along Budd Street and Miller Street at Budd Street Park. It will link to a playground, basketball courts and ball fields.
Since the program began, the Commissioners have approved 46 grants recommended by the Commissioner-appointed committee to build almost 27 miles of trails. The County Commissioners anticipate voting on whether to accept the grant recommendations at their Dec. 6 2023 meeting.
“It is no surprise that our Trails Grant program is so well received. Everyone recognizes the benefits of getting outside for a little exercise, recreation or just to decompress. The growing trail network throughout Morris County, including municipal trails augmented by our county grant program, gives everyone an opportunity to enjoy our open spaces. It’s important to note that the local trails created and improved through our grants are not always long hiking trails, but may simply be enhancing local parks and greenways. It is an important quality of life aspect we have in Morris County that our residents have come to expect and cherish,” said Commissioner Stephen Shaw, the board liaison to Morris County’s Office of Planning and Preservation.
“The program continues to build momentum. Each year we see new municipalities who had not previously participated, apply to the program. There are 14 municipalities that have received more than one grant. Municipalities have the option to submit a design and permitting or a construction application. This allows municipalities to choose a trail development strategy that fits their needs and financial structure and results in better trails for residents,” said Cass-Schmidt.
Funding for trail projects is derived from Morris County’s voter-approved Morris County Preservation Trust Fund, which was established in 1992 and subsequently modified with voter approval in 2002 to establish a Historic Preservation Fund. In 2014, voters approved a ballot question by a margin of 3 to 1 to modify the fund again, this time allowing trail development as an allowable use for a portion of the trust fund money.
If the recommended projects are approved by the County Commissioners, Morris County will have dedicated nearly $5 million towards establishing more than 27 miles of trails since grants were first provided under the Trail Construction Grant program in 2016.
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: 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 Morris County’s Trail Construction Grant Program website.