County capital plan signals start of new courthouse in Morristown; pocket park will be affected

WASHINGTON REDSKINS? OR PATRIOTS FAN? Sand sculpture of George Washington and football at 2013 Morristown Festival on the Green. Photo by Katharine Boyle
Sand sculpture of George Washington and football at pocket park, 2013 Morristown Festival on the Green. Photo by Katharine Boyle
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Editor’s note: After a pandemic pause, a new Morris County courthouse is poised to proceed in Morristown. A capital budget presented this week (see below) by the county commissioners includes money for final design work and bidding in 2023.

Leslie Bensley of the Morris Tourism Bureau with sand sculpture of George Washington preparing for the Super Bowl. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Leslie Bensley, then head of the Morris Tourism Bureau, with sand sculpture of George Washington preparing for the Super Bowl in 2013. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The project’s cost, pegged at $106 million in 2019, now is estimated at $85 million, to be paid over 25 years.

A portion of the county pocket park at Washington Street and Schuyler Place is scheduled to be taken by the project. The commissioners will discuss the plans in more detail on Nov. 21, 2022.

The new beer tent venue at the Morristown Festival on the Green, Sept. 24, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The new beer tent venue at the Morristown Festival on the Green, Sept. 24, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

The park faces Tito’s Burritos on one side and the Grand Café on the other. It was created by the county after it demolished the Washington Building in 2011.

In recent autumns, the park has housed a beer tent during the Morristown Festival on the Green. Back in 2013, some 12 tons of Jersey Shore sand were sculpted into George Washington with a football, ahead of Super Bowl 48 coming to New Jersey.

From the Morris County Commissioners:

Morris County Commissioners Present 2023 Capital Spending Plan

Highlights: Start of a New Courthouse Project,
Expanded Public Safety Investment & Continued Support for Parks

The Morris County Board of County Commissioners unveiled a comprehensive capital spending plan Wednesday that includes the design and bidding phase for a new courthouse in Morristown, while continuing to focus on the county’s priorities of improving infrastructure, public safety, boosting education and helping at-risk residents.

Preliminary details about new courthouse, from Morris County Commissioners presentation, Nov. 9, 2022.

The board’s Capital Budget Committee, including Commissioner Director Tayfun Selen and Commissioners Stephen H. Shaw and Thomas Mastrangelo, outlined how federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are being used to reduce future borrowing needs.

Overall, the county’s 2023 Capital Spending Plan, without the ARPA funding and the courthouse project, puts $34.7 million toward enhancing human services, public safety, public health and upgrades to roads, intersections and bridges.

“This capital plan makes good on our annual commitment to maintain and improve our transportation infrastructure.  It contains $15.5 million to resurface 26 miles of roads in 14 towns, $7.4 million to complete bridge and culvert upgrades and $2.6 million for improvements to major county intersections,” said Commissioner Shaw, chairman of the county budget committee.

“At the same time, we are committing $2 million to the county park system and investing $1.7 million in information technology improvements.”

The courthouse project, estimated at $85 million to be financed over 25 years, will be located on the county parking lot and pocket park off Schuyler Place in Morristown. A formal presentation on the project will be made to the Commissioners during their Nov. 21 work session.

“This is the year we will resume the courthouse project, which we put on hold due to the pandemic. It must move forward due to the requirements of the New Jersey judiciary.  We anticipate completing a final design in 2023 and then bidding the construction, which will involve eight courtrooms, a jury assembly area and judicial chambers,” said Director Selen.

Click Here to View The Slideshow Presented by the Capital Budget Committee

The capital spending plan includes multiple areas where ARPA dollars are helping to support key county investments, particularly in areas of law and public safety.

“More than $3.8 million will help upgrade our Correctional Facility, including the control room, communications, inmate transportation and other critical areas, while another $3 million will help to renovate our very important K-9 facility,” said Commissioner Mastrangelo.

“This plan also puts $355,308 toward tactical and response equipment for the prosecutor’s office and another $270,000 for training equipment and personal protection gear for our Office of Emergency Management, where the Command Post will receive an additional $1.4 million in capital funds.

The 2023 Capital Spending Highlights Include

Resurfacing 26 miles of Our County Road Network

  • 3.3 miles of Mendham Road (CR 510) from Indian Head Road to Cold Hill Road in both Mendham and Morris Townships
  • 2.2 miles of Main Road (US 202) from Fulton Street to Route 287 Northbound Ramps in Montville Township
  • 4.1 miles of Ridgedale Avenue (CR 632) from Littell Road (Route 10) to Route 280 in both Parsippany and East Hanover Townships
  • 3.8 miles of Tempe Wick Road / Glen Alpin Road (CR 646) from Leddell Road to Blue Mill Road in both Mendham and Harding Townships
  • 1.8 miles of Newark Pompton Turnpike (CR 660) from Jacksonville Road to Route 23 in Pequannock Township

 

Traditional Capital Projects Augmented by $19.8 million in ARPA Funds

 

  • Law Enforcement – $7,688,600
  • Capital Upgrades to County Buildings – $5,140,000
  • Human Services – $2,671,620
  • Morris County School of Technology – $2,200,000
  • Public Safety – $1,765,000
  • Park Commission – $350,000

View The Slideshow presented by the Capital Budget Committee HERE

Morris County government has a massive and diverse inventory of responsibility, ranging from the Morris County Administration Building in Morristown to Human Services and Law & Public Safety complexes in Morris Township and Parsippany.

The infrastructure includes:

  • 287 miles of county roads in all 39 Morris County municipalities
  • 1,000 bridges and culverts throughout all Morris County municipalities
  • 3 Freight Railroads
  • 1,185 vehicles and or pieces of equipment used by various county agencies
  • 3.3 million square feet of buildings and structures

 

The County of Morris also is responsible for:

  • Maintaining all trees within county road rights-of-way
  • Facilities required by the Judiciary, Sheriff, Law and Public Safety
  • Mosquito Control services throughout all Morris County
  • 20,300 acres of Parkland

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