NEW YORK, NY (March 31, 2023)— The Open Space Institute (OSI) and local officials praised Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill’s announcement that Morris County would receive critically needed federal funding for the Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Project. The funding was included as part of the bipartisan FY23 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The secured funding will advance efforts to safeguard the water quality of Boonton Reservoir while creating public recreational access to the 1,300-acre Reservoir property that will feature a seven-mile hiking trail.
Leveraging OSI’s technical assistance and grant-writing expertise, Morris County Park Commission was awarded $600,000 for the first phase of work to upgrade security at the site.
This new funding advances OSI’s four-years of planning to bring the Boonton Reservoir Project to fruition. In 2021, OSI delivered a permit-ready design for the Boonton Reservoir Project, a critical step in achieving the long-sought goal of making the land around the reservoir publicly accessible to the approximately 15,000 residents who live nearby. OSI oversaw critical permit and agency coordination, gaining approvals late last year allowing the project to advance.
The OSI-led design was the culmination of the historic 40-year lease and cooperative management agreement for the site struck between Jersey City and Morris County Park Commission in 2018, and OSI’s subsequent comprehensive Property Management Plan for the Reservoir which was issued and approved by Jersey City in 2019.
“OSI is proud of the leading role we took in structuring the long-desired agreement between Jersey City and Morris County and in creating the property management plan and formal design for the Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Project. Once completed, this ambitious but attainable project will provide safe and managed trail access to the site, while also securing the source of clean drinking water for almost 320,000 people,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “We applaud Representative Mikie Sherrill’s recent actions to secure funding toward the completion of the project and appreciate the Morris County Park Commission’s ongoing commitment to realizing the promise of this new outdoor, recreational space for area residents and visitors.”
“When we have a gem, like this project, that we can open up to the public and allow people to come up and really see the beauty of the Garden State, it’s a no-brainer,” said Congresswoman Sherrill. “All of these local projects address pressing needs raised by communities without burdening local taxpayers. We secured funding for key projects that will empower NJ-11 communities in their fight to increase public safety, improve water quality, mitigate the risk of flooding, expand access to health care, and strengthen local infrastructure. I remain steadfast in my commitment to bringing back every federal dollar I can to make New Jersey a better and more affordable place to live.”
“The Morris County Park Commission is pleased to be part of a recreation initiative that is supported by Federal, State, County, and municipal governments and spearheaded by project leader, the Open Space Institute, that will provide increased recreational opportunity to New Jersey residents and visitors. Supporting federal funding for this project furthers Congresswoman Sherrill’s commitment to parks, recreation and protection of our natural resources,” said David Helmer, Executive Director, Morris County Park Commission.
“The Town of Boonton is proud to have partnered with Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, OSI, as well as the Morris County Park Commission on the Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Project. This new outdoor recreation space will be a potential windfall for the town, making Boonton a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. We are grateful for the Congresswoman’s commitment to protecting our natural resources and her dedication to keeping Morris County an incredible place to work, play, and live,” said Town of Boonton Mayor Rich Corcoran.
The funding comes at an opportune time to help further the project while achieving multiple, positive community outcomes, including numerous safety upgrades, fencing, vehicle and pedestrian gates, and safety lighting, that will manage safe access to the property.
OSI’s Elliman added, “The Boonton Reservoir and Trail Protection Project is a prime example of how public-private partnerships can be leveraged to increase public access to nature, especially in densely developed communities.”
The project was made possible thanks to the support of multiple donors including the Atlantic Health System, F.M. Kirby Foundation, General New Jersey Fund of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, The Henrietta McPherson Fund of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, Highlands Council, The Luzzi Family, The Randy & Barbara Ann Frankel Foundation, S. Dillard & Adrienne Kirby Philanthropic Fund of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Township of Parsippany, and Kim and Finn Wentworth.