Friends of Wallisch need a hand

Mayor appeals to county for funding to repair barn roof

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  • Source: The stone barn, left, will be used by the Friends of Wallisch Homestead to store equipment and as a place to gather and hold meetings.

The Friends of Wallisch continues its campaign to bring the 100-acre property back to glory this Saturday. Volunteers are asked to stop by between 8 and 11 a.m. to help move the group’s tools into the Stone Barn, which the township has given use of for the group.

The Stone Barn is in dire need of roof repairs, according to John Hefferon, president of the Friends. Donations of materials, labor, and money are needed.

“We would like to schedule the repairs before the winter snow endangers the structure and the barn is lost,” said Hefferon.

The township has also appealed to Passaic County for funds.

“Through the efforts of the municipality and a local volunteer organization, Friends of Wallisch, we continually strive to restore and maintain this wonderful, historic resource,” said Mayor Bettina Bieri in her letter to Pat Lepore, chairman of the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders. “West Milford residents universally agree that this is a property worth preserving. I know that Passaic County officials, yourself included, consider the Wallisch estate to be a Passaic County treasure. As we work toward the potential of a joint endeavor with this property, my letter today serves as a plea for help.”

The estimated cost to replace the roof is $20,000, Bieri said in her letter, noting that neither the township nor the Friends have the funds.

“I appeal to you and your colleagues on the Board of Chosen Freeholders, asking you to consider the feasibility of appropriating funds from the Passaic County Open Space account or any other funding source that may be available for this emergency repair to one of our historic treasures. Farmland funding may also be an option for this site,” Bieri said.

The group has made great strides in their one year of existence. They have had eight volunteer events on site, become incorporated and a 501(c )(3) nonprofit group, generated over $30,000 worth of donations of goods and/or services, all at no cost to the taxpayers.

The property, which is located on Lincoln Ave., has several structures, including the main house, the creamery and the barn. All are in need of major repair and the group is hoping to get the work done and use the property as a learning environment.

"Now is an exciting time to get involved at the ground floor of what we hope will become a beacon for education, open space, adaptive reuse and environmental stewardship in West Milford, the region, the state and the nation," said Hefferon. "Lofty goals to be sure, but attainable if everyone pitches in. We started one year ago this month with eight people sitting around a kitchen table. I know we can do it."

The property was gifted to both the township and the board of education by the Wallisch brothers.

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