NEW JERSEY — Water quality. Affordable housing. Infrastructure needs. Scholarships. Hiking access. Traffic improvements. These are some of the projects that could see a windfall of federal bucks if they're chosen in New Jersey's 11th District, a congresswoman says.
In March, U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill put out a call for local proposals to submit for community project funding to the House Appropriations Committee in fiscal year 2023. Last year, Sherrill nailed down funding for all 10 community projects she submitted to the federal government.
The 11th District includes parts of Essex, Morris and Passaic counties.
In total, more than a dozen local community projects in the district have been submitted to the House Appropriations Committee as part of the FY2023 appropriations bill, which will be voted on later this year by the full House of Representatives.
The proposed projects are located in Chatham, Livingston, Madison, Montclair, Morris Plains, Morris Township, Morristown, Parsippany, Paterson, Wayne and Whippany (learn more about each below).
"I am proud to announce that 14 community projects I submitted on behalf of NJ-11 are moving forward in this year's budget process," Sherrill said earlier this week. "All of these local projects address pressing needs raised by communities – without burdening local taxpayers."
The congresswoman thanked the local organizations and government leaders who submitted projects on behalf of their communities.
"NJ-11 is lucky to have so many strong advocates fighting for it," she said.
The following projects, listed in alphabetical order, were included in the text of the FY23 appropriations bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee.
This funding would provide key security features as part of a larger effort to enhance and safeguard the water quality of the Boonton Reservoir, while creating recreational access with a 7.7 mile hiking trail. This Community Project funding would be used specifically to construct key security improvements, including 3,100 linear feet of site fencing, three new vehicle gates, three pedestrian gates, 18 close circuit cameras, and extensive lighting at two areas slated for the most immediate site improvement. When the broader project is completed, the Boonton Reservoir will be substantially more secure, green infrastructure will reduce stormwater runoff, and a loop trail will also become a recreational destination of regional significance for the Parsippany / Boonton area of Morris County.
The new 7.7 mile loop trail through the woods with water views will benefit a broad array of community members and attract visitors to the area. The pandemic has more than highlighted the importance of accessible outdoor recreational areas for mental and physical health.
Borough of Madison Affordable Housing Development
The lack of access to affordable housing is an issue that is raised consistently by housing advocates, residents, and local elected officials across NJ-11. This funding would be used to construct 44 rental apartments for low and moderate income families on two contiguous sites. The project will feature enhanced energy initiatives such as dedicated solar panels for each unit, triple-glazed windows, heat pumps, extra insulation, a specialized energy efficient appliance package, and other features resulting in project certification as the first multi-family affordable housing development in New Jersey meeting Passive Housing/New Zero Energy Standards. Six of the units will be set aside for special needs and homeless families.
The project sites are within walking distance to resources including education, recreational areas, public transportation, grocery stores, and the commercial district.
Chatham Police Department Public Safety Information Sharing Technology Improvement Project
This funding would be used to leverage existing Chatham Township public safety technologies and improve information flow on a new, physical fiber optic network that is more than 11.28 miles in length. It would replace the current data pathway, which relies on multiple wireless modems and does not provide real-time information. The speed and capacity of the new network provides real time public safety data from current situational awareness cameras, license plate readers, and other sensors to aid in investigating, responding to and preventing crime in the region. This project will support the work of Chatham Township's Police Department and their collaboration with Morris County law enforcement and public safety personnel. This project will also eliminate the cost of service contracts and the need for maintenance at each modem location, as well as the associated expenses.
Local support for this project included the Chatham Township Committee, Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, the Morris County Commissioners, and the Morris County Department of Public Law & Safety.
This funding would be used for reconstruction and improvements to Collinsville-Tucker Park, which includes two parcels of land as active public parkland within Collinsville, the Collinsville Playground and the Beatrice Tucker Park, which has an open space field with a backstop and possible community garden space. These areas have long been in need of improvements to include new amenities, sports courts, fields, and recreation facilities, The Township of Morris is utilizing a portion of its ARP State & Local Coronavirus Relief Fund allocation for these improvements as well. This Community Project funding would help complete the project. Collinsville is a primarily residential neighborhood in the Township of Morris within a section of Census Tract 433.01 with an approximate census population of 1,200 residents and growing.
Community EMS Physician Response (CEMSP) Expansion Initiative
RWJBarnabas Health has established an innovative approach to the existing pre-hospital/EMS response framework by taking "lessons learned" from the U.S. military's engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past twenty years. They are incorporating them into an innovative care concept that involves physician directed and provided care at the scene of emergencies in the community in order to enhance health outcomes and save more lives.
The funding will be used to expand and enhance the existing EMS Physician Training and Mobile Health initiative currently based in Newark to include an additional team based at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. The major goal of this program is to deliver immediate life-saving interventions while also enhancing triage capabilities, providing the right resources to the right patient at the right time. We expect this to lead to better health outcomes for the surrounding community and more lives saved.
Housing is Healthcare for Economic Development Project
This funding would be used for a pilot program to provide pathways to affordable, safe housing and preventive healthcare. Through this "no wrong door" Housing First policy, coupled with case management support and access to resources, housing insecure families and individuals will experience better health and economic outcomes. Family Promise of Morris County will lead this program, but will also incorporate community partners like Zufall, Atlantic Health, Hope One, and local Housing Authorities. This project was also supported by the Morris County Department of Human Services, Interfaith Food Pantry Network, Morris Habitat for Humanity and the Housing Authority of the County of Morris.
Even prior to the pandemic, Congresswoman Sherrill heard from multiple stakeholders about the current housing and healthcare crisis in NJ-11 and this has only been exacerbated by COVID. Family Promise of Morris County in-house data shows a 400% increase in requests for housing services, documenting the highest increase on record.
By addressing the housing crisis as well as providing critical wrap-around services, this program is expected to have an economic impact on families and individuals, but also for the community. There is a notable cost savings from reduced healthcare, prison, and hospital visits that has a direct positive impact on the community. Per the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, studies have found that leaving a person to remain chronically homeless costs taxpayers as much as $30,000 to $50,000 per year. This pilot project will include a study on homelessness, jail and hospital stays and the cost to these systems.
The funding will be used for a pilot program to incorporate technology in residential group homes, day habilitation, and private residential settings across Northern New Jersey, with the goal of providing greater independence and accessibility. The program will address the crisis of home health care staffing by providing options for individuals to live independently and help JSDD meet the growing need for residential support services within NJ-11. According to JSDD, communities that have utilized this technology have decreased their need for state funding dramatically. On average this technology has saved states/taxpayers up to 50% in annual expenditures per individual served. Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) are historically underserved in terms of funding, resources, accessibility, and technological innovation.
Letters of support were provided by the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, the Township of Livingston, and a community member that uses JSDD services. JSDD operates 15 residential sites for adults with developmental disabilities in Livingston, Florham Park, Maplewood, Millburn, Morristown, Boonton, West Caldwell, West Orange, Verona, and Whippany.
This funding would be used to design and construct a mini-roundabout at the intersection of McBride Avenue and Browertown Road in Woodland Park, NJ. The proposed roundabout will provide a southbound turning movement from Browertown Road, which does not currently exist. Not only has this been identified as a proven safety countermeasure, it will provide new access to over 50 businesses and 3 schools in the Browertown Road area. This type of improvement is essential, as this intersection provides connection to US Route 46 and I-80, two major roadways that accommodate thousands of drivers each day in northern New Jersey.
Paired with existing bicycle and pedestrian improvements along adjacent roadways and the Morris Canal Greenway, this project will continue the County's investment in safe and equitable transportation access for all residents and visitors. Support for this project came from the Passaic County Board of County Commissioners and the Borough of Woodland Park.
Montclair Township - PFOAS and Perchlorate Treatment – Rand Well
This funding would be used to completely rehabilitate and create resiliency in Rand Well, which has unacceptably high levels of PFOS and Perchlorates. This well serves the largest zone in Montclair. The funding will allow the town to assess the best solutions to achieve its clean water goals and implement construction. This project will help ensure local residents have access to safe and clean drinking water while saving the town residents from paying higher costs associated with continued maintenance of an older system.
Morristown Medical Center Emergency Department Renovation and Expansion Project
The funding would be used for Morristown Medical Center to replace the existing patient monitors, increase the monitoring capability in the hallway areas of the Red Zone, construct additional negative pressure rooms to control airborne pathogens, and modernize the triage space. The Emergency Department has not undergone a major renovation since one began in 2011, and advances in technology and basic upgrades are necessary for equipment and infrastructure that is already beyond its expected useful life.
The emergency department at Morristown Medical Center is a vital lifeline to millions of patients and families throughout the region. Morristown Medical Center had over 101,000 emergency department visits in 2019, and over 93,350 visits in 2021, providing lifesaving care to families in NJ-11 and across northern New Jersey. Letters of Support for this project were provided by Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, Morris County Administrator John Bonanni, LD-27 Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, and Assemblyman John McKeon.
Pump Station No. 4 Sanitary Sewer Redirection Project
This funding will be used to decommission Pump Station No. 4, the largest wastewater pumping station in the township's sewer service area, which conveys wastewater to its treatment plant. The Township owns and operates a sanitary sewer collection, conveyance, and treatment system, and the Lake Hiawatha service area is served by Pump Station No. 4. Lake Hiawatha is a section of the Township with a total population of 10,194 that is highly diverse and contains four census tracts that are considered overburdened by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Redirecting this flow to the existing connection, via a gravity sewer, has been identified as the preferred and most feasible alternative. Upon completion of the proposed gravity sewer connection, the existing pump station will be taken out of service, providing considerable energy savings. The proposed project will also eliminate the potential of the pump station failing, thereby flooding the nearby community with sewage.
Whippany River Watershed Flood Risk Reduction Feasibility Study
This funding would be used to conduct a General Investigation (GI) Watershed Study/Feasibility Study, to determine potential Army Corps of Engineers efforts to mitigate flooding from the Whippany River during storm events and erosion.
The banks of the Whippany River have deteriorated badly, and the flooding that results is felt throughout the surrounding communities. The oldest historically Black church in Morris County, Bethel Church in Morristown, which has stood for over 178 years, has faced consistent flooding from the Whippany, leading to significant damage to the building and grounds. Over a decade ago, when Tropical Storm Irene caused the Whippany River to surge beyond its banks, it filled the basement of the church with four feet of water. In other NJ-11 communities along the Whippany, flooding is a constant problem and danger as well. Towns have created water rescue units specifically in response to the increased frequency and severity of floods, and business areas are consistently impacted by the associated road closures.
This project, together with the Whippany River Regional Improvement Initiative, also submitted as one of Rep. Sherrill's Fiscal Year 2023 Community Project Funding Requests, is an effort to take a regional approach to address concerns heard about the Whippany from multiple communities along its banks.
Whippany River Regional Improvement Initiative
This funding would be used to clear major obstructions from the Whippany River and its major tributaries. Currently, a multitude of decaying trees have fallen into the river at various points, causing significant water flow blockages. Project tasks include clearing and desnagging streams, reestablishing and replanting vegetation along streambanks to minimize erosion. The project will provide important public benefit by ensuring the river stays its current course and does not eventually veer off into inhabited areas, as well as limiting public and private property losses caused by flooding.
This project is a direct result of a collaborative effort by local officials in Hanover Township, East Hanover, Parsippany, and Florham Park. Letters of support for the project have been submitted by the Mayors of these four towns. At a meeting in early 2022, Rep. Sherrill learned about the impact the river's condition has had on the safety of local residents, some of whom have had to be rescued by boat during recent storms. The river's lack of capacity to hold stormwater has also had a financial impact on businesses along Route 10.
The river flows along several points of interest, including Speedwell Dam in Morristown and portions of historic Patriots' Path and other regional trail networks, including the Whippany Burying Yard and the Joseph Tuttle House (both listed on the State and National Historic Registers), that residents and visitors enjoy seeing. By clearing and maintaining the river's obstructions, in addition to the reduced risk of flooding, these economic activities will be able to continue unabated. This project together with the Whippany Watershed Study, which was submitted as a Fiscal Year 2023 Community Project by Rep. Sherrill, is an effort to take a regional approach to address concerns heard about the Whippany from multiple communities along the river.
Student Scholarships to Offset the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
The funding would be used for student scholarships to support college completion for students impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be utilized to ensure students can re-enroll in the University, continue their studies, alleviate the costs of attendance, and have access to expanded services and programming to help them thrive once at the University. Approximately 40% of students who have not returned or discontinued their studies in recent years have cited financial-related reasons.
97% of all students at William Paterson come from NJ. These funds will allow the school to help students fulfill their educational dreams and increase college attainment levels in Passaic County (currently at 34%), which is the third lowest in the state, and lowest in Northern New Jersey.
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