Drew Forest among list of North Jersey projects to get federal funds. See full list.

Sixteen million dollars to combat auto theft, pay for public-works projects and possibly save a forest will flow into North Jersey in the form of federal dollars for community projects shepherded into the 2024 federal budget by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-Montclair.

The funds are included in a $460 billion package of spending bills signed by President Joe Biden on Saturday and approved by the Senate.

The 15 projects that will receive funding this year in the 11th District benefit portions of Morris, Essex and Passaic counties, said Sherrill. Those projects range from $500,000 for the Nutley School District to install smoke detectors and fire alarms to more than $4 million to help fund the sale and preservation of Drew Forest in Madison.

“These funding requests address a wide range of issues — like crime prevention and flood mitigation — that are of the utmost importance to local leaders and constituents in NJ-11,” Sherrill stated in an announcement listing the projects. “With these federal resources, our towns will be able to invest in our communities without raising local taxes.”

Lawmakers are negotiating a second package of six bills, which includes defense, to have all federal agencies fully funded by a March 22 deadline.

The largest grant of $4.1 million was awarded to Madison to help fund the purchase and preservation of Drew Forest. The borough has been in negotiations for several years with Drew University to preserve its 51-acre track of environmentally sensitive forestland that serves as both a “living laboratory” for environmental study students and as a buffer between the campus and neighboring residential communities.

Those negotiations have resulted in conflicts that landed both parties in court last year, with Drew objecting to its land being excluded from calculations for Madison’s affordable housing obligation, thereby lowering the market value of the land.

Facing declining revenues, Drew in 2022 announced its intentions to sell off most of the forestland, including a portion to developers hoping to build it out.

Madison sought a $10 million Open Space grant last year from Morris County to help fund the purchase, which borough officials say will cost “significantly more than” $10 million, but instead was awarded $5 million.

Funds for Morris County

Two $1 million grants will go to Morris County, which makes up the majority of Sherrill’s congressional district.

One grant will support the Workforce Development Program at County College of Morris including a new satellite campus for health care studies. Another will fund the renovation of the historic Union Hill schoolhouse into a new civic center in Denville. Mayor Tom Andes said the facility would be used by the Denville Library and Recreation Department to “run a multitude of programs for our children.”

Other projects will address crime prevention, particularly in the form of $963,000 grants to both Essex County and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office to expand the use of automatic license plate reading technology to track auto thieves.

Additional grants will help fund projects aimed at traffic safety, flood mitigation, water infrastructure and community resources. 

The complete list:

  • $963,000: Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Regional — ALPR Expansion
  • $963,000: Essex County — Coalition of 17 Municipalities for ALPR Expansion
  • $500,000: Passaic County / Little Falls — Traffic Light Installation
  • $959,752: Maplewood — New Stormwater Subsystems
  • $500,000: Hanover, East Hanover, Florham Park, Morristown, Morris Plains — Whippany River Regional Improvement Initiative Phase II
  • $4,116,279: Madison — Drew Forest Preservation
  • $959,752: Belleville — Lead Line Replacement Project
  • $750,000: Jefferson — Public Sanitary Sewers Initial Army Corps Study
  • $959,752: Wayne — Mountain View Pump Station Rehabilitation Project
  • $1,000,000: County College of Morris — Workforce Development Center
  • $963,000: Seton Hall University — Semiconductor Related Research & Workforce Development 
  • $850,000: Chatham Borough — ECLC School Facility Renovations
  • $500,000: Nutley — Public School District Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms
  • $1,000,000: Denville — Community Center Renovation Project
  • $850,000: West Essex — YMCA Facility Construction

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