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New Trail Projects Recommended for Morris County Funding

Three New Projects in Three Towns Will Establish Nearly Three More Miles of New Trails

The Morris County Board of Freeholders received a recommendation yesterday to fund three recreational trail projects in three towns for $619, 058 as part of the five-year-old Morris County Trail Construction Grant Program.

Betty Cass-Schmidt, Chairwoman of the Trail Construction Grant Advisory Committee, presented the 2020 grant recommendations to the Freeholders last night at their public work session in Morristown. Projects suggested by the Freeholder Board-appointed committee would add nearly three miles of trails in the county.

The projects include a second phase of a project to add 1.46 miles of trail in Wharton, nearly a mile of trail in Roxbury Township linking Veterans Park and Emmans Greenway Trail, and a fourth phase of trail work adding nearly a half mile to the Bee Meadow Pond Nature Trail in Hanover Township.

The Freeholders will vote on whether to accept the grant recommendations at their Dec. 9, 2020 meeting.

“The trail program is enabling Morris County not only to provide scenic and recreational paths for outdoor enjoyment, but also to establish greenways that link preserved properties throughout Morris County. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important it is to have these outdoor resources available to the public. It’s another investment in the quality of life we are preserving and enhancing here,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Stephen Shaw.

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. 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.

The first trail grants were awarded in 2016 to establish 4.24 miles of trails.  If the recommended projects are approved by the Freeholders next month, the county will have dedicated nearly $3.3 million towards establishing 17.16 miles of trails in just five years of trail funding.

“This is the program’s fifth year and the number of applications remained stable, showing municipalities recognize how trails can benefit communities and enhance the quality of life for Morris County residents.  During this challenging COVID period, trail and park use has doubled and tripled as residents seek safe ways to spend time away from their homes.  All of this year’s grants increase the connectivity of trails to existing municipal and county trails,” said Chairwoman Betty Cass-Schmidt.

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 https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/divisions/prestrust/trail/

 

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