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BOONTON - More than 70% of Boonton residents voted in favor of legalizing retail sales of recreational marijuana two years ago. Their elected leaders quickly followed suit, passing an ordinance by a 7-1 margin to legalize retail cannabis sales in town earlier this year.But it turns out some Boontonites - and others ...
BOONTON - More than 70% of Boonton residents voted in favor of legalizing retail sales of recreational marijuana two years ago. Their elected leaders quickly followed suit, passing an ordinance by a 7-1 margin to legalize retail cannabis sales in town earlier this year.
But it turns out some Boontonites - and others who have children attending parochial schools in town - are very particular about exactly where they want those shops to exist.
Many of them packed a marathon council meeting Monday to speak out ahead of an ordinance vote by the council to extend the existing cannabis commercial zone to include Division Street. The expansion would include a vacant building desired by a provisional retail cannabis licensee, a few hundred feet from downtown Main Street.
Following a public-comment period lasting more than three hours, the council failed to pass the ordinance by a 5-4 vote.
Councilmember and former Mayor Cy Wekilsky reiterated his stance that retail cannabis sales were "not something we ought to have here." Councilmember Michael Wade agreed, "for a lot of reasons."
"If we need this to balance the budget, then shame on us," Wade said.
The public comment was a mix of for and against. Several residents spoke out about the benefits of added tax revenue and a business that would bring shoppers into town. Others worried about traffic on the narrow road, security and the proximity to schools. One angry resident opposed to retail cannabis sales referred to the elected officials as the "Wu-Tang Council," invoking the name of the pro-cannabis hip-hop band.
Mayor Rich Corcoran and Councilmember Marie Devenezia both said prior to the meeting, they received many emails from people out of town who were against the ordinance. Many of the out-of-towners, they said, were parents of students at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School and its Lumen Gentium Academy for high school students on Birch Street.
Noting almost 75% of her Ward 2 constituents voted in favor of legal retail cannabis, Devenezia said "I'm going to listen to the voices of Boonton first." She added she suffers from chronic arthritis pain and while the medications prescribed to her put her liver, kidneys and heart at risk, "cannabis poses none of those risks."
Corcoran was more blunt about the critics from out of town and his own council.
"I thank you all for coming out but what do I do about the 3,359 people in this town who came out in November and voted [for retail cannabis sales]?" he said. "They have a say. They provided a direction for this board."
He also turned his ire on Wade. "I couldn't disagree with you more," Cocoran said. "And if we don't pass this tonight, we are going to have to make drastic cuts to our budget. We're going to have to lay people off, and it's going to be you and me going to tell them that."
Corcoran added he has three children attending Mount Carmel and to be sure, he personally measured the distance from all schools in town to the proposed Division Street shop, and they were all in excess of the statutory 1,000-foot buffer.
The same council voted 7-1 in July "to go forward to look into" a request by Boone Town Provisions at its July 5 meeting to expand the commercial zone off Myrtle Avenue on the north end of town established by the council for retail cannabis shops. That vote followed a presentation from Boone Town chief legal advisor Justin Singer detailing the company's proposal to open in a Division Street building formerly occupied by Boonton Electric.
Singer returned to the council Tuesday to again explain that the company was unable to find a property within the existing zone that was suitable for their purpose. He also explained that suggested alternate sites, including the abandoned iHop near Walmart, presented security issues due to adjoining tenants.
Larger shopping centers also typically receive financing from larger banks with restrictive covenants that do not allow leases to cannabis sellers because it is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government,
"I get it, this is a new industry and people have questions," Singer said.
Corcoran warned that six other towns in Morris County alone have approved retail cannabis sales and there are a limited number of licenses being issued. He noted neighboring Boonton Township is already reaping up to $500,000 a quarter in added tax revenue from the cannabis growing facility in the township.
"So about a third of their budget is now going to be paid by cannabis," he said.
Seven towns in Morris County - Boonton, Butler, Dover, Morristown, Rockaway, Rockaway Township and Victory Gardens - have approved retail cannabis sales, but none have yet to see a dispensary approved and opened. Elsewhere around the state, 20 cannabis dispensaries have opened since retail recreational sales began in New Jersey in April.
After public comment at meetings in Parsippany and Boonton, the project was announced in 2018 and moved forward the following year. Vianella Burns, Patch Staff|Updated Tue, Jun 13, 2023 at 11:04 am ETPARSIPPANY, NJ — The lengthy process of creating public open space around the Boonton Reservoir has advanced once more, this time by going before the township planning board for a courtesy review.After two yea...
Vianella Burns, Patch Staff
|Updated Tue, Jun 13, 2023 at 11:04 am ET
PARSIPPANY, NJ — The lengthy process of creating public open space around the Boonton Reservoir has advanced once more, this time by going before the township planning board for a courtesy review.
After two years of site investigations, designs, and engineering work, progress is being made on the plan for a 7.7-mile trail in Parsippany and Boonton.
On Monday, June 5, the Parsippany Troy-Hills Planning Board met with a representative from the Open Space Institute and the project engineer to undergo a courtesy review hearing on the highly anticipated Boonton Reservoir and Trail Project.
The effort to renovate Jersey City's 700-acre reservoir in Morris County has been ongoing for over two years, and the project is still on paper despite a $600,000 federal Community Project Grant secured by U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill last year to facilitate the project.
Since 1904, the facility, which is located in the towns of Boonton and Parsippany-Troy Hills, has served as a utility and Jersey City's primary water supply.
The project, which was announced in 2018, will be built in four stages. The centerpiece of the project is a 7.7-mile natural-materials hiking trail complete with trail signage, three parking areas, and a new pedestrian bridge trail across the reservoir's massive dam outfall.
Peter Karis, the Vice President for Parks and Stewardship for the Open Space Institute, said that they are currently at the tail end of the pre-development process of the project.
Officials claim that once the overall project is completed, the Boonton Reservoir will be more secure for all residents. The extra green infrastructure is meant to reduce stormwater runoff, and the loop trail will become a regionally significant recreational destination for the Parsippany community.
The trail will have two main entry points, one on Greenbank Drive and the other planned for right off of Parsippany Boulevard, Karis said.
"It is a four-phase project. Phase one includes a trailhead at Greenbank Drive and about 3.2 miles of trail running along the eastern edge of the reservoir at the southern end. It's essentially an existing maintenance road around the reservoir through phase one," Karis said.
The Greenbank Drive trailhead will have space for approximately 40 cars, as well as an entry gate, kiosks, and scenic overlook areas with signage explaining the reservoir's history and ecology.
Phase two will see the construction of the second trailhead, which will lead to two distinct sections of the trail. One section will head north to a specific lookout point, while the other will head south to another "prominent" lookout point overlooking the reservoir.
According to Karis, phase two will also be ADA-accessible, while phase one won't.
"Phase one will be universally accessible, although not ADA," Karis said.
The third phase will go around the dam, including the replacement of a 120-foot historic bridge on the dam's down slope side. According to officials, the bridge will connect phases one and two.
"Phase four on the western slope is the most remote and the most rugged. It includes four pedestrian bridges and the vast majority of the water protection areas that are included in the project. There are several inputs into the reservoir from the 287 corner that are unmitigated from a stormwater management perspective," Karis said.
Although the construction of the parking lots will necessitate the removal of trees, the project engineer clarified that all removed trees in the surrounding areas would be replaced in order to maintain the tree canopy.
“This project has been in the works for some time, and it is very near and dear to my heart,” Mayor James Barberio said. “The opening of this recreation area will be enjoyed by so many of our residents and those of other towns for years to come.
Barberio anticipates that this project will generate a lot of traffic near the reservoir because the trail's opening will be the first time the reservoir is officially open to the public.
"I can't tell you how many residents are looking forward to this coming to fruition," Barberio said.
PARK RIDGE — Close games were a bugaboo for Boonton last season, partly due to erratic foul shooting.The 2023 Bombers will be remembered as North 1, Group 1 girls basketball champions because they made their free throws in crunch time.No. 5 seed Boonton topped No. 3 Park Ridge on Tuesday, 41-35, going 7-for-8 at the line in the final two minutes to earn its first sectional title since 1990.“Last year, we lost five games by five points or less, or we would have had like 21 wins,” said Mich...
PARK RIDGE — Close games were a bugaboo for Boonton last season, partly due to erratic foul shooting.
The 2023 Bombers will be remembered as North 1, Group 1 girls basketball champions because they made their free throws in crunch time.
No. 5 seed Boonton topped No. 3 Park Ridge on Tuesday, 41-35, going 7-for-8 at the line in the final two minutes to earn its first sectional title since 1990.
“Last year, we lost five games by five points or less, or we would have had like 21 wins,” said Michael Carlin, coach of the now 23-5 Bombers. “We really worked on our foul shooting this year, and it’s made a difference down the stretch.”
Senior Ariana Jackson-Wach put Boonton ahead to stay by hitting both ends of a 1-and-1 with 2:05 to play, which broke a 32-all tie. Jaden Visioli and Jackie Cifelli followed suit with less than a minute remaining.
“It was definitely very nerve-wracking,” Cifelli said. “You just have to block everybody out and focus on what you need to do, and then follow through.”
Boonton advanced to Thursday’s NJSIAA Group 1 semifinal at Ramapo High School, where it will face North 2 champ University (Newark) at 7 p.m.
According to Daily Record archives, the Bombers’ 1990 team went all they way to the state final after winning North 2, Group 2 and finished 30-1. The current squad has posted back-to-back winning seasons, something the program has done only one other time in the 2000s.
“I can’t even begin to express how proud I am of these kids,” Carlin said. “We were 4-24 the year before I took over. … so, where we are now, it is incredible.”
Playing in its third North 1, Group 1 final since 2009, Park Ridge (17-14) remains in search of its first sectional crown.
The Owls held a 25-19 lead at the half after spreading around the ball effectively. Then, to start the third quarter, the Bombers hit three consecutive three-pointers – two by leading scorer Amanda Tuhoy – in a three-minute span to move ahead.
From that point on, Park Ridge managed just four field goals, all from top scorer Allie Shenloogian. No other Owl tallied a point in the second half.
“Our two best defenders, Ari [Jackson-Wach] and Sierra [Medina], they really stepped up,” Tuohy said. “Ari’s been battling an ankle injury since the first sectional game, but for her to come back and be able to stop the other team’s best player [Shenloogian], we really need her for that.”
? Tuohy netted 12 of her 17 points in the second half and added 14 rebounds and 3 assists. “I told Amanda, she was playing a little timid in the first half,” Carlin said. “We told her at halftime, ‘Go to the basket, play aggressive’.”
? Visioli chipped in 8 points and 4 assists.
? Shenloogian logged 22 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals, while freshman Annika Kivisikk led Park Ridge with 11 rebounds.
“We’ve been building up to this for four years. … All of the seniors, I’ve been playing with them since third grade, so we were building chemistry over the years.” — Tuohy
“We’re not one person. You look at our stats, it’s five girls – and we’ve had games this year where Amaya [Campbell]’s stepped up and been our scorer, Jaden’s stepped up and been our scorer. Amanda is always there, but teams figure it out. And when they go after her, the other girls step up and do their job.” — Carlin
3 minute readAmong the words you don't hear often these days — "cuspidor," "britches," "floppy disk" — is an old favorite from 100 years ago."Chautauqua" is a town in western New York. But it also used to be the name of a lecture circuit.Back in the days before PBS, traveling speakers, usually equipped with a magic lantern, would fan out across the country giving talks about China, the Holy Land, The Galveston Flood — anything that might draw crow...
Among the words you don't hear often these days — "cuspidor," "britches," "floppy disk" — is an old favorite from 100 years ago.
"Chautauqua" is a town in western New York. But it also used to be the name of a lecture circuit.
Back in the days before PBS, traveling speakers, usually equipped with a magic lantern, would fan out across the country giving talks about China, the Holy Land, The Galveston Flood — anything that might draw crowds to the local opry house or grange hall.
About time someone brought this tradition back. And Wheeler Antabanez, a Montclair resident, is just the guy to do it.
"Walking the Old Boonton Line: A Photographic Journey on the Abandoned Rails of New Jersey" is a talk and video presentation he has evolved from his experience as author and urban explorer. And it's the closest thing to a Chautauqua lecture you'll find this side of Chautauqua itself (this type of presentation began there in 1874).
With the aid of you-are-there footage and live narration, he'll take you on a virtual trip down 9 miles of forgotten North Jersey railroad track, with its endless scenic delights: abandoned factories, decaying drawbridges, creepy tunnels. And you'll have the perfect guide.
"I've been describing this to people as, 'You know when your relatives go on vacation and they come back with a slide show? This is that, but it's interesting,' " Antabanez said.
The shows will be 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, and Friday, March 24, at Silver Stream Studio, a small venue (22 seats) in Upper Montclair.
"Walking the Old Boonton Line" is not typical Chautauqua material. But then, Antabanez is not your typical public speaker.
Author of "Walking the Newark Branch" and "13 From the Swamp," a frequent contributor to Weird NJ magazine, Antabanez makes it his business to look into the things other people look away from.
Abandoned railroad tracks, decaying infrastructure, polluted waterways, rusting drawbridges stuck permanently in the "up" position — that's the stuff that jazzes him. And, looked at through his eyes, it is sort of beautiful.
"It's still gorgeous out there on the railroad tracks," said Antabanez, originally from West Caldwell. "When I'm out there, I'm experiencing the woods in all their beauty, even though it's corrupted by all this decay."
And the 9.5 miles of the old Boonton line is of exceptional interest — not least because it no longer exists. Antabanez got in there just under the wire. About a month ago, those old tracks were torn up to make way for the coming Essex/Hudson Greenway.
With the aid of his storytelling skills, his video camera and his drone — yes, he did aerial photography — Antabanez will take his audience up the tracks and through the backside of a dozen towns, including Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus and Jersey City.
The climax of it all is The Bergen Arches, aka the Erie Cut. It's a part of Jersey City few people see now.
"It's a series of bridges and tunnels that holds up the infrastructure above it," he said. "It's been abandoned since the 1950s."
What he wasn't able to explore himself, he sent his drone down to capture.
"There are these huge tunnels cut through the rock of Jersey City," he said. "If you have a drone, you can fly right down there. I flew right underneath, right into the bowels of Jersey City."
Go: "Walking the Old Boonton Line: A Photographic Journey on the Abandoned Rails of New Jersey." 7:30 p.m. March 23 and 24, Silver Stream Studio, 594 Valley Road, Upper Montclair, $5, advance tickets only; Wtobl.brownpapertickets.com.
PARSIPPANY — Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) secured funding for fourteen Community Projects she submitted on behalf of NJ-11 in the House Appropriations Committee Fiscal Year 2023 bill, signed into law in December.Community Projects are submitted by state or local governments, government-adjacent organizations, and nonprofits. Ranging from townships, counties, hospitals, and community service organizations, each of these fourteen projects will improve the lives of residents throughout NJ-11....
PARSIPPANY — Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) secured funding for fourteen Community Projects she submitted on behalf of NJ-11 in the House Appropriations Committee Fiscal Year 2023 bill, signed into law in December.
Community Projects are submitted by state or local governments, government-adjacent organizations, and nonprofits. Ranging from townships, counties, hospitals, and community service organizations, each of these fourteen projects will improve the lives of residents throughout NJ-11.
Click here to read the Disclosure Letter.
Sherrill obtained a $600,000 grant to enhance and safeguard the water quality of Boonton Reservoir while creating recreational access with a 7.7-mile hiking trail.
“The Morris County Park Commission is part of a recreation initiative supported by Federal, State, County, and municipal governments and spearheaded by the project leader, the Open Space Institute, that will provide an increased recreational opportunity to New Jersey residents and visitors. Supporting federal funding for this project furthers Congresswoman Sherrill’s commitment to parks, recreation, and protection of our natural resources,” said David Helmer, Executive Director of Morris County Park Commission.
Mayor James Barberio said, “This project has been in the works for some time, and it is very near and dear to my heart,” the Mayor stated. “The opening of this recreation area will be enjoyed by many of our residents and those of other towns for years to come. I appreciate the dedication of all those who worked to see this come to fruition.”
“The Town of Boonton is proud to have partnered with Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, OSI, and the Morris County Park Commission on the Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Project. This new outdoor recreation space will be a potential windfall for the town, making Boonton a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. We are grateful for the Congresswoman’s commitment to protecting our natural resources and her dedication to keeping Morris County an incredible place to work, play, and live,” said Town of Boonton Mayor Rich Corcoran.
“OSI is proud of our leading role in structuring the long-desired agreement between Jersey City and Morris County and creating the property management plan and formal design for the Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Project. We applaud Representative Mikie Sherrill’s recent actions to secure funding toward the completion of the project and appreciate the Morris County Park Commission’s ongoing commitment to realizing the promise of this new outdoor recreational space for area residents and visitors,” said Kim Elliman, president, and CEO of the Open Space Institute.“Once completed, this ambitious but attainable project will provide safe and managed trail access to the site while securing the clean drinking water source for almost 320,000 people.”
Other Community Projects are submitted by state or local governments, government-adjacent organizations, and nonprofits. Ranging from townships, counties, hospitals, and community service organizations, each of these fourteen projects will improve the lives of residents throughout NJ-11. The 13 other projects include: