Morris County Board of County Commissioners Director Stephen Shaw joined state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-25), Chester Township Mayor Marcia Asdal and many other local officials in breaking ground on an improvement project at the Black River Fields, which the township is officially purchasing with Open Space funds approved by Morris County.
“Since the Open Space program began in Morris County more than 20 years ago, we have preserved more than 17,600 acres - which is almost as large as the entire Township of Chester,” Director Shaw said.
“I always want to remind everyone that this money doesn’t come from the county or the commissioners. It comes from the taxpayers of Morris County, who have overwhelmingly supported open space preservation in Morris County, and we thank all of them today.”
Morris County approved a $416,250 Open Space grant for the township in November 2019 to purchase the 45-acre property, which is located off North Road, across from Telcordia Park and next to the Black River Middle School and Chester Area Pool. A segment of Patriot’s Path also runs through the land.
The Black River Fields are owned by the West Morris Regional High School District and have been leased by the township for recreational use for two decades.
The groundbreaking involves work needed to improve playing fields and recreational accommodations already built by the township over the years.
“We are happy to have people here today who helped us along the way,” Mayor Asdal said. “This area has been the premier focus for youth sports in Chester Township.”
She noted the fields have been used for more than 50 years to support youth sporting organizations from both Chester Township and Chester Borough, as well as neighboring Mendham Township and Mendham Borough. The Open Space dollars will preserve the land for that purpose.
“What a great project and great effort by two branches of government coming together,” said Sen. Bucco. “This is a great opportunity."
Joining the groundbreaking ceremony were Chester Township Council Members Tim Drag, Joe DiPaolo, Brian Curely and Mike Inganamort, along with Morris County Parks Commissioner Edward McCarthy, former Township Council Member Jacki Spinelli, Former Mayor Ben Spinelli and Don Storm of the West Morris Regional High School District Board of Education. Many Chester Township residents and township employees also attended.