New Reserve Preserves Characteristics Of Town

New Reserve Preserves Characteristics Of Town
By Kerry Breen
Since its ribbon cutting, Giralda Farms Reserve at Loantaka Brook Reservation has been a popular place and more additions will be underway.
More than 200 people, including four freeholders and a state congressman, attended the June 6 ribbon cutting for the opening of the Giralda Farms Reserve. After the event, hundreds of cyclists rode their bikes through the newly-opened trails.
The land, once a part of the historic Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge Estate, expanded the Loantaka Brook reservation from 744 acres to 880. The land consist of footpaths that meander through maintained fields and forested areas, and a series of streams and wetlands. Presently, about eight miles of trails exist on the preserve; according to Chatham Mayor Kevin Sullivan, there are plans to add an additional 2.3 miles of trail.
“We are going to add trails,” said Joe Basralian, the chair of the Chatham Township Open Space Committee. “We are going to add a small parking lot, we are going to add more signage; we are also going to add benches for people to rest and sit down – that is some of the basic stuff. We are going to do more, because people are so interested in this property. They all want to use it and enjoy it.”
According to Sullivan, the land will be used mainly for passive recreation. It will also host events like 5Ks. The well-loved NJ Symphony Orchestra will continue to play there during the summer, creating something that everyone can enjoy.
“It’s a beautiful piece of land,” said Sullivan. “It preserves important characteristics of the town, and I think preserving those characteristics was important and critical about the project.”
Sullivan was one of the driving forces behind the project, according to Basralian. He credited Sullivan with having put in hundreds of hours of work, and having been extremely active throughout the process.
“It is a beautiful outdoor resource for the people of Morris County to enjoy forever,” said Basralian. “It helps preserve the beauty, the clean water, and the beautiful land around here. It will also help conserve natural resources.”
The land is within the watershed of the federally protected Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. This means that the protection of the land will benefit water quality in the area. It will also benefit the wildlife, such as the 244 species of birds that call this area their home. The hope is that this land will be enjoyed for generations to come.
The preserve was made possible through money raised by various partners. Altogether, the project cost $14.1 million; the majority of those funds were donated by the Morris County Open Space trust fund. They contributed a ten million dollar grant, the largest in the history of Morris County. According to Sullivan, the remaining $4.1 million was raised by both public and private entities.
Other parties included the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the F.M. Kirby Foundation, the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, the Morris County Park Commission, the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Morris County Preservation Trust, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Green Acres Program, and the Normandy Real Estate Partners.
For more information, visit or the Chatham Township website.

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