Four Open Space Projects Recommended to Commissioners
Published on November 10, 2021
Dover, Montville, Parsippany and Chatham Township Sites Submitted for 2021 Preservation Grants
Morris County’s Open Space Trust Fund Committee tonight recommended the Board of County Commissioners approve $1.3 million to acquire and preserve a total of 43 acres in 2021 Open Space projects spanning four towns.
The projects were presented to the Commissioners for review during the board’s public meeting last night in Morristown. The land is located in Dover, Montville, Chatham Township and Parsippany Township, and the parcels range in sizes from one-fifth of an acre to nearly 20 acres.
The Commissioners will make a formal decision on the grant recommendations at a later meeting this year.
“Morris County has always placed great value on preserving open space and parkland, as well as restoring historic sites and expanding recreational trails, and the importance of that ongoing effort may never have been so evident as during the past 18 months. Residents flocked to these sites to find solace and just enjoy the outdoors during the pandemic. In fact, visits to our open spaces, parks and trails quadrupled during that time. I know I speak for the full board when I say that this is one of the most important things we do as Commissioners,” said Commissioner Director Stephen H. Shaw.
Jay Thomson, who chairs the 15-member Morris County Open Space Trust Fund Committee, presented the recommendations to the Commissioners.
“Even though there are only four projects this year, they run the whole gamut. From a flood prone lot in east Dover, to an aquifer recharge area in Montville, to a project that further expands protected lands near the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge to the final piece of a multi-year multi property project in Parsippany that, when completed, will be larger than Smith Field. These are four great additions to an outstanding lineup of Open Space projects that will contribute to making Morris County a great place to live and work,” said Thomson.
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 $318,760,878 in grants for 486 applications. Applicants have successfully closed on 416 of those projects, preserving 17,668 acres – a combined acreage larger than Parsippany Township and almost as large as Chester Township. 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.
2021 OPEN SPACE RECOMMENDATIONS:
Jean Drive Preserve Acquisition
- Applicant: Township of Montville
- 19.62 acres
- Recommended Award: $465,000
- Description: This property lies in the Towaco Valley Aquifer Critical Water Resources District, between Old Lane and Jean Drive. The protection of this aquifer and its associated water supply lands is a priority for Montville Township, which envisions passive recreation for the property, including hiking, walking and bird watching. Acquisition also would expand township owned lands in the region.
East Blackwell Street Property Acquisition
- Applicant: Town of Dover
- 0.20 acres
- Recommended Award: $35,000
- Description: This vacant residential lot is located on the south side of East Blackwell Street at the T-intersection of Sammis Avenue and adjacent to a trout-stocked section of the Rockaway River. Dover envisions passive recreation for the property, which is near Dover's downtown area and would provide a convenient outdoor space for all to enjoy.
McDon Fen Property Acquisition
- Applicant: Trust for Public Land
- Located in Chatham Township
- 17.74 acres
- Recommended Award: $350,000
- Description: The acquisition involves two contiguous properties that front, in part, Southern Boulevard. They abut the southeast end of Nash Park, a popular local park with amenities including a playground, basketball court, bleachers and multiple fields. The larger of the two, largely wooded and marshy properties contains a tributary of Black Brook that drains into the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and ultimately the Passaic River.
- Chatham Township will own the property upon acquisition and utilize it for the expansion of Nash Park.
Kosut Property Acquisition
- Applicant: Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills
- 5.44 acres
- Recommended Award: $450,000
- Description: This property is located off Knoll Road, surrounded by land north and south that was previously preserved and is owned by Parsippany Township as part of the 11.1-acre Fieldfair Property. The property is located across the street from watershed lands surrounding the Boonton Reservoir (also known as the Jersey City Reservoir), and it was the subject of a $659,000 grant through the 2020 Open Space grant program. Parsippany Township envisions developing the property into a park and recreational facility.
Top Right: McDon Fen Property
Center Left: Jean Drive Preserve