ROXBURY, NJ – A mile-long trail along a Roxbury ridge is among three trail projects in Morris County that should receive county funding, said an advisory group on Monday.

The Morris County Trail Construction Grant Advisory Committee included the Roxbury trail in its yearly trail-building recommendation to the county freeholders.

The proposed Roxbury trail would be in Ledgewood and would connect with the "green" trail in Veterans Park. It would wind its way down the eastern side of the ridge and terminate in a field near the Swim and Sport Club on Emmans Road, said Roxbury Department of Public Works Director Rick Blood.

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"Ultimately, they will have a trailhead on Emmans Road, he said. Doing so will require a bridge to cross Drake's Brook.

The advisory panel recommended a county grant of $239,820 for the project which would entail building about three-quarters-of-a-mile of 3-foot-wide dirt trail and about a quarter-mile of 3-foot-wide gravel trail.

The committee also recommended the freeholders fund a second phase of a project to add 1.46 miles of trail in Wharton and a fourth phase of trail work adding nearly a half mile to the Bee Meadow Pond Nature Trail in Hanover Township.

The three projects, totaling $619,058, would be part of the 5-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 at the board’s public work session in Morristown.

The Freeholders will vote on whether to accept the grant the recommendations at their Dec. 9 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,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Stephen Shaw. “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.”

Funding comes from the county’s voter-approved Open Space & Farmland Preservation Trust Fund.

The first trail grants were awarded in 2016 to establish 4.24 miles of trails, said the county. “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,” it noted.

“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,” said Cass-Schmidt. “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.”

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