By Anastasia Marchese
Mendham Borough Administrator Richard Merkt is very pleased to be planning the newest addition to the park system in Mendham, Scott’s Farm.
This historic property belonged to the Cary Family back in the 1800’s. Until it was recently purchased by the Borough, it belonged to the Scott’s family, who still owns the farmhouse adjacent to the farm property. The house in located in Mendham township, but the barn and fields fall within Borough boundaries.
For those who wonder about the difference between the Borough and township, the split dates back to 1906-07, when there was a disagreement between Mendham Town residents as to the creation of a city water system. Farmers who had wells preferred to keep things the way that they were, whereas the growing number of townspeople preferred plans for a municipal water system. Since the two factions could not agree, the more rural, agricultural area of the town, became the Borough of Mendham and the remaining area of the township went ahead with plans for city water.
According to Merkt, the Scott’s Farm property has “one of the last great vistas from Mountainside Road down toward the north branch of the Raritan River.”
The property also has the advantage of good placement, in relation to other open space and recreation areas.
“It is a connecting property, almost a keystone property,” said Merkt. The property borders a borough park, Mountain Valley Park, as well as the Bi-Arbor Arboretum. It is also adjacent to the Patriot’s Path. The New York & New Jersey Trail Conference website describes the Patriot’s Path as “a unifying ribbon, this 35 mile path links many different parks, watershed lands, and historic sites. In southern Morris County it travels mostly along the corridors of the Whippany, Black and Raritan rivers.”
Having the ability to connect a possible trail on the Scott’s farm property to the Patriot’s Path made the property even more appealing for the Borough Council.
Councilman John Andrews and Mayor Neil Henry, were instrumental in the acquisition process.
Merkt explained that 25 percent of the purchase price for the property came from the Borough’s Open Space Fund. This is money that has been set aside so that when an opportunity like this came along, the Borough would be in a position to move forward. The rest of the funds were received from the county and the MUA (Municipal Utilities Authority).
Merkt sites this property as a prime example of why the borough has an Open Space Fund. He considers the acquisition of the Scott’s Farm land to be “one of the [borough’s] best accomplishments of 2015.”
The property may have been closed in 2015 but the planning for how to use the land is continuing. Since the land is designated for passive recreation, there won’t be any construction of playing or balls fields. Instead the land will be set aside for hiking, biking, running and jogging. The property is also adjacent to Mendham Commons, which is home to many bBorough citizens. One hope is that having access to this area will enrich the lives of Mendham Commons residents.
As to plans for the property, the outline is to have “some kind of trail along the perimiter of the property, about 6/10ths of a mile.
It would be a loop that would connect with Patriot’s Path.”
Merkt is excited and pleased with the borough’s decision to preserve this very special part of Mendham.
“The idea was to leverage the available grant funds to acquire open space for future generations of Mendham residents.” These 11 acres of land have a “wonderful old red barn” situated as part of the character of the place. Even the chicken coops behind the barn are going to be preserved. This property “is set aside permanently as open space” and will help preserve the character of the borough, to “keep Mendham Borough, Mendham Borough.”