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WHITE TWP., NJ [December 14, 2005] – Farms, recreational land and open space will be preserved and historic buildings will get needed attention under a series of resolutions totaling more than $1.4 million approved by the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Tapping the county’s Open Space, Recreation and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, which is financed by a dedicated property tax, the freeholder board authorized projects throughout the county, from Hardwick in the north to Pohatcong in Warren’s southern tip.

“It’s a demonstration of the freeholders’ commitment to preservation of land, and the appreciation of the cultural heritage of Warren County,’’ said Robert Resker, Administrator of the county Department of Land Preservation.

“These contract proposals are vital to our continued pursuit of the county’s open space policy and desired goals,” said Freeholder Director Richard D. Gardner. The projects help to “not only maintain open space, but our great quality of life in Warren County,” Gardner remarked.

“It is most important to maintain the quality of life in Warren County,” Freeholder John DiMaio commented. “One of the best ways we’ve been accomplishing that is by preserving farms, providing recreational opportunities and maintaining our historic sites and structures, to protect our heritage.”

“The preservation of open space and our historic sites are paramount to keeping the aesthetic beauty of Warren County, and keeping our culture alive,” Freeholder Everett A. Chamberlain said.

Maintaining open space, farmland and historic structures benefits the county’s economy, Chamberlain noted. “It also encourages people to travel to Warren County, which helps in preserving our businesses such as restaurants, Christmas tree farms, and others that are part of the tourism picture,” Chamberlain added.

The freeholders approved a resolution granting approval to purchase development easements – paying a farmer to surrender the right to ever develop the property – on a group of three farms in Pohatcong owned by the Czar family that total 186 acres. The entire purchase price is $830,000 but the county’s share of the project is $132,990.

  Another resolution provides $502,040 toward a $1.82 million acquisition of 62 acres of land on Route 94 in Blairstown, where soccer, football and baseball fields will be built to serve residents of Blairstown, Hardwick, Knowlton and Frelinghuysen.

The freeholders approved a grant agreement providing $200,000 for Frelinghuysen to purchase five acres of highly developable land surrounding the township municipal building in Johnsonburg for recreation purposes. The property is adjacent to land that already has been preserved.

Two of the grant agreements will provide funds for stabilization of historic buildings. The Friends of the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center will receive $233,655 from the trust fund to repair the roof and make other improvements to the Phillipsburg Union Railroad station on South Main Street in Phillipsburg, which the organization operates as a museum. Warren County already provided $230,000 toward the purchase of the building.

The other grant agreement will provide $360,000 to the Harmony Township Historic Preservation Commission for stabilization of the Hoff-Vannatta Farm on Route 519 in Harmony. The freeholders already provided $230,000 for work on the buildings that is about to commence.

“That’s a great project,” Resker noted. “It’s a farmstead that dates from the late 1700s, and it’s largely intact, with the stone home, and the barns and outbuildings.” The township plans to repair the buildings and operate the farm as a living historical site.

The freeholder board also extended a grant agreement with the Ridge and Valley Conservancy that will provide $60,000 to purchase an easement on the Mountainwood Spring property in Hardwick. The resolution extends a 2002 grant, allowing more time for the easement purchase to be completed.

All six resolutions were approved unanimously.

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