The long wait for grant check pays off

Date Published: 
Wed, 07/21/2010

As time elapsed and no payment appeared for three years, there were those who figured that the township had botched the deal and Mine Hill would be saddled with an $800,000 debt.

As time ticked on, many efforts to secure funds from the State Green Acres Program,

an organization that was part of a funding package to purchase 200 acres of open space, known as the Dickerson Mine Tract, assured Mine Hill officials, as early as last January that a check was forthcoming.

The wait forced town officials to secure a loan to head off defaulting to the seller of the 200-acre parcel of land.

After the July 4th holiday, Mine Hill announced it had received its long-awaited grant check. According to Mine Hill’s mayor, Richard Leary, the holdup was attributed to delays associated with satisfying the terms of the grant.

Receiving the $800,000 payment puts closure to the $12.4 million Dickerson Mine Tract purchase, a wooded parcel of land that stretches through the heart of Mine Hill, from Route 46, along Canfield Avenue, towards Randolph Township.

By securing these funds from Trenton, Mine Hill can now pay off the loan it held while waiting for the grant money to arrive.

"Though I never lost faith that we would receive the funds promised, there was risk that the state could have reversed itself and refused payment. It took a combination of state and federal leaders, particularly the help of Cindy Randazzo of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to move our request along." Leary acknowledged.

The New Jersey Green Acres Program is part of a coalition of grant donors that collectively generated $12.4 million so Mine Hill could purchase the Dickerson Mine Tract. Other contributors included the Morris County Open Space and Farmland Preservation Trust, the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, Morris County Park Commission and the Morris Land Conservancy.

In other news, the Mine Hill Council formalized a partnership with JORBA (Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association) covering the design, construction and maintenance of biking trails in the Dickerson Mine preserve.

JORBA is a national organization for off-road cyclists. According to the agreement, the all-volunteer group proposes to seek grants to offset expenses in the development of trails that will provide recreational space for cyclists and hikers.

"Work on the new trails will begin soon and could be available to the public next month," Leary said.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Neighbor News (Dover Edition)