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Group says deal for land would expand Morris parks
by Bill Swayze/The Star-Ledger
Wednesday July 23, 2008, 10:45 AM

The Trust for Public Land plans to purchase 188 acres from the religious order that owns Delbarton School for $13.8 million to expand a Morris County park.

The property -- among the largest undeveloped tracts in Morris County -- was to be the site of the Order of St. Benedict's $100 million retirement community proposed in 2000.

Negotiations with the The Trust for Public Land began in 2006, after the state rejected the retirement community plan, saying it would harm water quality, wildlife and open space.

"The monks will secure the money they need to continue to do their work. The people who were concerned about the fate of the property win because it will be preserved," said Tony Cicatiello, a spokesman for the Order of St. Benedict.

The land, adjacent to Morristown National Historic Park, will be be added to Lewis Morris County Park.

The trust plans to seek funding from the Morris County Open Space Trust Fund. Additional funding for the purchase is expected to come from the Morris County Park Commission, Morris Township's Open Space Trust Fund, the Great Swamp Watershed Association, Morris County Municipal Utilities Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection's Green Acres program.

The commission also plans to improve and expand the Patriots Path trail system with the additional land, according to the announcement.

The agreement is subject to the approval of the Order of St. Benedict's local governing board
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