Published on May 10, 2023
July 28 Deadline for Applications
Nearly $1.5 million in grants for recreational trails will be available to Morris County’s 39 municipalities through the 2023 Morris County Trail Construction Grant Program, which opened its eighth annual application process today.
Morris County has issued more than $4.5 million to build and enhance a growing network of local trails since 2016, after voters overwhelming approved dedicating a portion of the Morris County Preservation Trust Fund annually toward recreational trail development.
“One of the reasons Morris County is such a great place to live, work and play is our commitment to preserving open space and maintaining and improving our park system. There is no better way to experience the natural beauty of Morris County than getting out on the over 25 miles of trails running through our preserved lands and parks. We have seen trail use increase, so we are glad to be able to work toward expanding the trail system each year,” said Commissioner Stephen H. Shaw, board liaison to the trail program.
Check out the Application Link
No major rule changes have been made to the 2023 grant program. However, there have been formatting changes to the application process, with the purpose of creating a more streamlined submission process.
Applicants are reminded of some noteworthy aspects of the program including:
- Funding Available for Design & Permitting Phase
- Funding Available for two Construction Categories – 1) Minor & 2) Major
- Pre-Application Meetings Required for ALL Submissions
- Grantees have 2-Years to complete projects
“In the initial seven years of the Trail Construction Grant Program, 56% of municipalities in Morris County have been awarded a trail grant, which includes a total of 45 grants in the amount of $4.6 million that will build 26 miles of trail throughout Morris County. The program has a mix of municipalities applying to the program for the first time with design plans, as well as others who have received multiple grants for design and construction to expand their trail projects. To date, 70% of the municipalities have participated in the program,’’ said Betty Cass-Schmidt, Chairwoman of the Trail Construction Grant Advisory Committee.
A Virtual Application Workshop will be held on Tuesday May 23rd, 2023 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. to review the overall program and application process. Please register to attend by contacting [email protected]. A recording of the workshop will be posted on the program website for those who cannot attend.
The program application format and submission requirements have been updated. Separate applications apply for each funding category. Please be sure to read all submission requirements carefully.
The two-step submission process remains the same:
Step 1, Letters of Intent are due on Friday June 30, 2023.
Step 2, Full Applications are due by Friday July 28, 2023.
Permissible Uses and Projects, include:
- Construction of new trails of various types (single, shared, motorized and non-motorized)
- Enhancement of existing trails (improvements to design and/or surface type to accommodate increased use or to make the trail ADA-compliant)
Funding only will be considered if the land on which a trail project is to be constructed is:
- Located in Morris County
- Owned by the municipality
- Permanent 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
Various aspects of project development are not eligible for funding.
They include, but are not limited to the following: land condemnation, land acquisition, sidewalks, improvements or construction to roads, lighting, running tracks (tracks used for races involving athletes at track meets), law enforcement personnel and activities, promotional materials (shirts, caps, pins, etc.)
The minimum grant amount is $5,000 for all funding categories. The maximum grant award varies based on the category limit is defined as “no one award shall receive more than 60 percent of the funds available during each year’s funding cycle.” However, this exception can be waived if a project is deemed to be a regionally significant project.
The Trail Grant program operates on a reimbursement basis. Municipal applicants are limited to one application request per funding cycle. The program requires municipalities to contribute a 20 percent match toward the costs of their trail projects.
Grant awards are expected to be announced before the end of the year.
Application materials and other resources are available on the program website, including a program Fact Sheet, which provides a brief summary.
Photo 1: Jefferson Township, Liffy Island Trail, Funded 2017.
Photo 2: Florham Park, Briarwood-Stobeaus Trail, Funded 2016.
Photo 3: Netcong, Arbolino Park Trail, Funded 2019.
Photo 4: Town of Morristown, Footes Pond Trail, Funded 2016.
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