North Jersey parks, flood zones, hospitals stand to gain if feds approve funds

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Hospital emergency care, affordable housing and parks are among a list of priority community projects in New Jersey Congressional District 11 that are expected to receive more than $17.7 million in new federal funding, Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-Montclair, said Wednesday.

Amounts ranging from $300,000 to more than $3 million for 14 projects in Morris, Essex and Passaic counties were included in this year's House appropriations bill, which has passed committee and will go to the House for a vote later this year.

"The projects include infrastructure investments to improve water quality and mitigate flood risks, health care facility upgrades, programs to address the affordability of housing and college tuition, public health support, and funding for law enforcement," Sherrill said.

Two hospital systems in the district stand to receive $1 million each to improve emergency response and care.

Morristown Medical Center plans to use its funds to renovate and expand the busiest emergency room in Morris County, which has not undergone a major renovation since 2011. Atlantic Health officials hope to replace existing patient monitors, increase monitoring capability in the hallway areas of the Red Zone, construct additional negative pressure rooms to control airborne pathogens and modernize triage space.

The Route 202 bridge is seen in the background crossing the Boonton Reservoir.
The Route 202 bridge is seen in the background crossing the Boonton Reservoir.

The Morristown emergency room handled more than 101,000 visits in 2019 and more than 93,350 in 2021.

The RWJBarnabas Health Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston will use its funds for a project that will incorporate "lessons learned" from U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq 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 specifically be used to expand and enhance the existing EMS Physician Training and Mobile Health initiative currently based in Newark, with a goal "to deliver immediate lifesaving interventions while also enhancing triage capabilities, providing the right resources to the right patient at the right time," hospital officials said.

An existing trail on the east side of the Boonton Reservoir, where a 7-mile passive recreation trail will begin construction in 2022.
An existing trail on the east side of the Boonton Reservoir, where a 7-mile passive recreation trail will begin construction in 2022.

Another highly anticipated project — a 7.7-mile recreation trail planned to go around the Boonton Reservoir, announced in 2018 — would get $600,000 to build key security improvements, including 3,100 feet of site fencing, three new vehicle gates, three pedestrian gates, 18 cameras and extensive lighting at two areas slated for the most immediate site improvement.

Officials hoped to begin construction on the long-delayed project this year, but a spokesperson for the Morris County Park Commission said there is no timetable in place.

The Parsippany Wastewater-treatment utility.
The Parsippany Wastewater-treatment utility.

Other District 11 projects expected to receive funds through this year's appropriations bill include the following:

  • Parsippany Pump Station No. 4 Sanitary Sewer Redirection Project ($3.45 million): Decommissions Pump Station No. 4, the largest wastewater pumping station in the township’s sewer service area, which conveys wastewater to its treatment plant and services the Lake Hiawatha section. It will be replaced with a gravity sewer connection.

  • Madison Affordable Housing Development ($2.08 million): This funding would be used to build 44 rental apartments for low- and moderate-income families on two contiguous sites. Six of the units will be set aside for special needs and homeless families.

  • Family Promise of Morris County "Housing is Healthcare for Economic Development Project" ($1.76 million): This funding would be used for a pilot program to provide pathways to affordable, safe housing and preventive health care. 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. Other participating community partners are Zufall Health, Atlantic Health, Hope One and local housing authorities. This project is also supported by the Morris County Department of Human Services, the Interfaith Food Pantry Network, Morris Habitat for Humanity and the county Housing Authority.

  • Whippany River Regional Improvement Initiative ($1.5 million): A collaborative effort uniting Hanover, East Hanover, Parsippany and Florham Park, this project would clear major obstructions from the Whippany River and its major tributaries. Currently, decaying trees that have fallen into the river are causing significant water flow blockages. Officials say the project will provide important public benefit by ensuring that the river does not eventually veer off into inhabited areas and increase property losses caused by flooding.

  • Flood Risk Reduction Feasibility Study ($300,000): Another Whippany River project to conduct a general investigation watershed study/feasibility study, to determine potential efforts to mitigate flooding from the Whippany River during storm events and erosion.

  • McBride Avenue Roundabout Project in Woodland Park ($1.2 million): This funding would be used to design and construct a mini-roundabout at the intersection of McBride Avenue and Browertown Road to add a southbound turn from Browertown Road that does not currently exist. The intersection provides a connection to Routes 46 and 80, two major roadways that accommodate thousands of drivers daily.

  • Scholarships to offset the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic at William Paterson University ($1 million): To fund student scholarships to support college completion for those affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. About 40% of students who have not returned or have discontinued their studies in recent years have cited financial reasons, say university officials.

  • Chatham Police Department Public Safety Information Sharing Technology Improvement Project ($809,000): To leverage existing public-safety technologies and improve information flow on a new, physical fiber-optic network that is more than 11.28 miles long. It would replace the current data pathway, which relies on multiple wireless modems and does not provide real-time information.

  • Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled in Livingston ($760,000): To fund a pilot program to incorporate technology in residential group homes, day habilitation and private residential settings across North Jersey, with the goal of providing greater independence and accessibility. Program officials say that on average, this technology has saved up to 50% in annual expenditures per individual served.

  • Collinsville-Tucker Park Improvement Project in Morris Township ($500,000): This funding would be used for reconstruction and improvements to the park, which includes two parcels of land within Collinsville, a primarily residential neighborhood.

"All of these local projects address pressing needs raised by communities without burdening local taxpayers," Sherrill said. "I am ready to do all I can to secure this funding as this bill moves through the House and Senate."

This article originally appeared on Morristown Daily Record: NJ parks, flood zones, housing to benefit if feds OK funds