TRENTON – Locally, open space generally held the high ground in N.J. elections Tuesday.
But what was present locally was missing at a statewide level, according to preservations advocates.
There were 10 measures on municipal ballots to create or continue funding for open space acquisition, and seven of them passed.
But a plan earlier this year to have on the statewide ballot a referendum to dedicate monies to save open space – $200 million from the sales tax – collapsed.
The Senate passed the measure but the Assembly never voted on the resolution, which would have needed a three-fifths majority to appear on this year’s ballot.
The previous funding stream for the Green and Blue Acres preservation efforts has expired and absent a new funding stream preservation efforts are endangered.
“The success of the local open space ballot measures across the state indicates that New Jersey voters support investments in keeping our drinking water clean, preserving our parks and green spaces and protecting our family farms and historic treasures,” said NJ Keep It Green Chairman Tom Gilbert.
In order for the measure to have had a second chance at getting on the ballot Tuesday the Legislature would have had to return to the Statehouse by Aug. 1 and vote but that never happened.
So some environmentalists are taking heart in seeing results of local initiatives Tuesday and pledging to work with the administration and Legislature to find a permanent dedicated source of funding to replace the 2009 bond issue that has been spent.
In Newark, voters approved an Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund to acquire and maintain parks and green spaces through a levy of 1-cent per $100 of assessed property value that would generate approximately $1.1 million annually.
The coalition tracked these other successful measures:
Oakland Borough, Bergen County extension of 1-cent open space tax for 10 years
Waldwick Borough, Bergen County extension of .5-cent open space tax for 10 years
Shamong Township, Burlington County extension of 2-cent open space tax for 10 years
Stratford Borough, Camden County creation of new 1-cent tax for park development and maintenance
Frenchtown Borough, Hunterdon County creation of new 2-cent tax for open space and farmland preservation
Alloway Township, Salem County extension of 2-cent open space tax