State, county, local governments buy Loyola land, doubling size of Morristown’s Foote’s Pond Park

Egret at Foote's Pond, June 29, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Egret at Foote's Pond, June 29, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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From the Morris County Freeholders and the Town of Morristown:

MORRIS COUNTY PRESERVATION TRUST: MORRISTOWN DOUBLES SIZE OF PRESERVED FOOTE’S POND PARK
Some 25 Open Acres Just a Mile from the Morristown Green

An 11-acre surplus parcel from the Loyola House of Retreats is being permanently preserved as an addition to Morristown’s Foote’s Pond Park, it was jointly announced today by the Trust for Public Land, Morris County, the state Green Acres Program, and Morristown.

This acquisition will nearly double the size of the popular park and, with the planned enhancement of the trail system, should add to the attraction of this open space, located just a mile from the bustle of the Morristown Green.

The Morris County Preservation Trust, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program, and Morristown all contributed to the $2.1 million purchase. Morristown will own and manage the property.

“We are excited to have helped preserve another great resource for the community in Morristown,” said Greg Socha, senior project manager for The Trust for Public Land.

The Loyola property has been a priority for conservation for many years. It was highlighted as a preservation opportunity in the town’s 2011 Open Space Plan.

Morristown’s council approved a $250,000 expenditure to complete the purchase. It joins a growing list of open space preservation projects in Morristown that includes Hillcrest Park, the Early Street Community Garden, the forthcoming park in the Speedwell Redevelopment Area, and the pocket park at the corner of Schuyler and Washington Streets.

“Acquiring this land from the Loyola House of Retreats allows the Town a unique opportunity to merge two historic properties into a newer and bigger one for the future,” said Mayor Timothy Dougherty.

“The Town and I are excited for the finished results, which furthers our commitment to open space preservation in Morristown.”

In addition to its enhancement of Foote’s Pond Park, the tract – which is located in the headwaters of the Great Swamp watershed — also is an important element in local watershed protection.

Preventing future development at this location will eliminate potential impacts to an already stressed watershed, and the open space will offer important ground water recharge.

“The high quality of life in Morris County is directly connected to the preservation of open space, as well as farmland and historic properties, financed by residents of Morristown and the entire county through funding specially dedicated for these purposes,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Christine Myers.

“Open spaces in Morristown and across the county are used to create parks, connect trails, offer recreational opportunities for our residents, help our environment, and ensure that we have green spaces in each of our towns as places to think or breathe,’’ Myers added.

Foote’s Pond Park is a popular spot for local wildlife observers, birders and photographers. Currently, the property is open to the public and can be accessed at the trailhead off James Street, near the Thomas Jefferson School.

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities. To learn more about The Trust for Public Land, visit www.tpl.org.

For more information on the Morris County Preservation Trust, visit: https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/divisions/prestrust/

Morristown, also known as “Historic Morristown” or “The Military Capital of the American Revolution,” was incorporated as a town on April 6, 1865. A Town that is rich in culture, commerce, healthy initiatives and recreational spaces, Morristown’s 18,411 residents and daily visitors find a thriving downtown, centered on the Revolutionary-era Morristown Green.

Several local parks and recreational open spaces are available to the public, including Foote’s Pond Park, Cauldwell Park, Lidgerwood Park, Burnham Park and Kleitman Woods Park.

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