MORRISTOWN – The heaviest rain subsided this morning just in time for Mayor Tim Dougherty to preside over a ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating the restoration of Foote’s Pond.
That was some Saturday good news for a mayor being challenged in next month’s Democratic primary. And it followed some good news on Friday night – the endorsement of Rep. Mikie Sherrill. who said Dougherty has been “steadfast” leading Morristown through the pandemic.
If you’re keeping score, the mayor now has the backing of three Democratic heavyweights – Gov. Phil Murphy, Sen. Cory Booker and Sherrill.
Dougherty, who is seeking his fourth term, is scheduled to debate his opponent, Esperanza Porras Field, on Wednesday night.
Most of today, however, was not about politics.
John “Jay” DeLaney Jr., the town’s last Republican mayor, was one of about 30 people on hand for the ceremony. DeLaney recalled that 20 years ago the pond off of James Street was very much a mess.
Dougherty said the pond was “meadowing.” Or said another way, transitioning from a pond to a meadow or bog. Some may support allowing the natural progression of things to run its normal course.
But Morristown went a different route.
Through the use of “hydro-raking,” which is an alternative to dredging, vegetative material was removed from the pond’s bottom. That greatly improved both the look and the ecology of the pond. In addition, the town acquired nearby land to create a 24-acre park complete with a walkway, dogwoods and cherry trees and a greater variety of wildlife.
Like many things in Morristown, there is history here. The pond dates back to the 1860’s and was once used to stock an icehouse.
Dougherty hailed the occasion as something good that can be accomplished when people work together, specifically thanking the Friends of Foote’s Pond Wood, a local volunteer group.
Looking over the pond and the walkway, the mayor said, “This is going to be here as long as we are here.”
In a more pedestrian comment, Dougherty said he was hoping to see fish jump.
That didn’t happen, but the dedication and continuing endorsements made it a good day for the mayor.