Acting governor allocates funds for area open space projects

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    SUSSEX COUNTY-Acting Governor Richard J. Codey signed legislation last month dedicating more than $12.5 million in loans and grants for open space and park projects in Sussex County. This includes $250,000 for local projects, more than $3.5 million for planning incentive awards and more than $4.8 million for non-profits involved in projects affecting the region. It also includes more than $4 million for farmland preservation. In total, Codey signed a package of 12 bills that dedicate nearly $353 million toward preserving open space and protecting natural resources throughout New Jersey. "By preserving open space and protecting natural resources, we are investing in our quality of life here in New Jersey," said Codey. "This funding package helps us fight overdevelopment and unplanned growth and ensures that future generations may continue to enjoy our fields and farms and parks and open spaces." The funding will go toward the following projects in Sussex County: Byram Township, C.O. Johnson Park Recreation Expansion, $250,000 -- Byram Township proposes expansion of C.O. Johnson Park, located on Roseville Road, to accommodate the growing population in the area. Green Acres previously provided assistance to the Township for park facilities at this location. The Township's plan is based on input from park users, and includes the construction of a new multi-use play area that could be used for soccer or baseball/softball in the future. The Township will relocate existing tennis courts and construct a rollerhockey rink, skateboard park, basketball and handball courts, and a sand volleyball court. The plan also includes an expanded walking jogging path, restroom/concession stand, parking, stormwater runoff facilities, and landscaping. In addition, the bills signed by the Governor also included money for nonprofits for projects that will affect the Sussex County region, including: Morris Land Conservancy, Priority Areas Acquisition, $575,000 -- Morris Land Conservancy has been working with numerous municipalities to prepare open space plans. As the towns have prepared their plans, the Conservancy has continually added these towns into their project scope, in order to be able to participate in co-operative acquisition projects. The Conservancy has an extensive list of future projects, with a special focus on protecting wildlife habitat and preserving land in the Highlands, and in the Passaic River wetlands areas. Within the Highlands, the Conservancy is working closely with the State to expand existing wildlife management areas and state parks, and with municipal partners to connect and expand local parks. The proposed Troy Meadows acquisition is a co-operative project with Army Corps and the State of New Jersey to acquire property as part of the Preservation of Natural Flood Storage Areas element of the Passaic River Flood Damage Reduction project. Trust for Public Land, Project Priority Areas $1,475,000 - The Trust for Public Land has identified multiple priority acquisition areas throughout the state. Included in these projects is Sparta Open Space. TPL will assist in the implementation of the Sparta Township Open Space Plan.