News Department

Warren County Commissioners present 6 preservation grants

WARREN COUNTY, NJ – Historic building restorations and rails to trails projects received grants totaling $500,477 as the Warren County Board of County Commissioners traveled around the county making ceremonial check presentations to local nonprofits and municipalities.

Funding for the six projects was approved in February by the Commissioners, acting on the recommendations of the 12-member Municipal and Charitable Conservancy Trust Fund Committee (MCCTFC).

The grants are financed through the County’s Open Space Trust, which is funded by a voter-approved dedicated tax.

Commissioner Director James R. Kern III along with county Commissioners Jason J. Sarnoski and Lori Ciesla, oversized check in hand, toured sites associated with projects in Phillipsburg, Alpha, Blairstown and Mansfield to meet with the local officials and nonprofit representatives involved and congratulate them on the awards.

“These projects represent some of the county’s most special places,” Kern said. “Thank you to the dedicated volunteers and organizations who help keep these sites operational and open to the public. I encourage everyone to explore Warren County and see them in person.”

First up was Phillipsburg’s Union Station, where the Friends of the NJ Transportation Heritage Center received $172,099 for the continued restoration of the interior of the train station that opened in 1914. “We’ve gotten grants over the years, it’s allowed us to resurrect this place,” said FNJTHC President Thomas Hellyer. IMG_3070(L-R: Phillipsburg Council President Pete Marino, Phillipsburg Business Administrator Matthew C. Hall, Commissioner Director James R. Kern III, Commissioner Jason J. Sarnoski, Friends of the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center President Thomas Hellyer, Commissioner Lori Ciesla, and Mayor Randy Piazza, Jr.)

The Town of Phillipsburg received $50,000 toward the purchase of approximately 29 acres of land currently owned and controlled by the New Jersey Transit Corporation for the creation of an approximately 3-mile multi-use recreational trail for the public.IMG_3076

(L-R: Phillipsburg Business Administrator Matthew C. Hall, Council President Pete Marino, Commissioner Jason J. Sarnoski, Mayor Randy Piazza, Jr., Commissioner Lori Ciesla and Commissioner Director James R. Kern III.)

Phillipsburg’s trail is envisioned to connect to the future Alpha Rails to Trails segment that would utilize the same railroad corridor, and Alpha Borough was awarded $75,000 toward the purchase of approximately 17 acres of land, also currently owned and controlled by the New Jersey Transit Corporation, for the creation of a multi-use recreational trail of approximately 1.3 miles.IMG_3080(L-R: Commissioner Director James R. Kern III, Alpha Councilman Pete Pettinelli, Commissioner Lori Ciesla, Commissioner Jason J. Sarnoski, Alpha Borough Engineer Tim O’Brien, and Alpha Mayor Joseph Schocko III.)

The Phillipsburg Area Historical Society received $37,990 for work on the Roseberry House, a c.1766-1774 stone home that is believed to be the oldest standing structure in the town. The grant will fund the removal of the existing 20-year-old asphalt shingle roof and installation a new cedar shingle roof typical of such homes during its historical period of significance. “The reason we have gone so far is because of the grants from the people of Warren County,” historical society President Rich Backes noted.

IMG_3086(L-R: Commissioner Jason J. Sarnoski, Commissioner Director James R. Kern III, Phillipsburg Area Historical Society Vice President Melissa Lupi, society President Rich Backes, Commissioner Lori Ciesla, society Board of Directors member Jeff Finegan, and society Recording Secretary Kelly Osborne.)

Blairstown Township received $70,189 to prepare a professional restoration plan for the pedestrian bridge at Footbridge Park. Railroad magnate, philanthropist and township namesake John I. Blair installed the steel footbridge in 1893 and the property was purchased by the Township in 1959. The footbridge now serves as an important connector between the Paulinskill Valley Trail and Footbridge Park on one side of the Paulinskill River, and the Blairstown Historic District and local businesses on the other.

1000025713(L-R: Blairstown Committeewoman Karen Lance; Blairstown Historic Preservation Committee members Karin White, President Christine Beegle, and Martin Miller; Commission Director James R. Kern III; BHPC member Reverend David Harvey; Deputy Mayor Walter Orcutt; Commissioner Lori Ciesla, Blairstown Committeeman Eric Lohman; Mayor Rob Moorhead; and Commissioner Jason J. Sarnoski.)

The tour ended at Mansfield Township’s former Mount Bethel Methodist Church, which is being restored to become the Mount Bethel Community Center. The township received $95,199 for the installation of a septic and generator so that the structure can be used as a heating and cooling center by residents, in addition to being used as a year-round community center. Constructed in 1844, the former church sits on land that was purchased on January 16, 1788 by Dr. Robert Cummins, a Methodist and surgeon in the First Sussex Regiment during the Revolution, who is buried in the adjacent cemetery along with other Revolutionary and Civil War veterans.

IMG_3094(L-R: Commission Director James R. Kern III, Commissioner Lori Ciesla, Mansfield Township CFO Judith Curran, and Commissioner Jason J. Sarnoski.)

Since the program’s inception more than 25 years ago, 168 grants have assisted local historic and open space projects in each of Warren County’s 22 municipalities.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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