Municipalities in New Jersey are one step closer toward obtaining more parkland, as a bill co-sponsored by District 40 representatives David Russo (of Ridgewood) and Scott Rumana moved to the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week. The bill was originally introduced in the Senate May 9.
The bill, 4052, proposes giving $84,495,199 from 2009 Green Acres Fund and Garden State Green Acres Preservation Trust Fund for local government open space acquisition and park development projects. Individual municipalities may be eligible to receive some of the funds through grants or low-interest loans.
The bill says monies allotted to municipalities could be used to acquire land to develop it for “recreation and conservation purposes.” To be eligible, a municipality’s population density must be at least 5,000 people per sq. mile. The Bergen County projects up for funding include the Haledon Reservoir Acq. In Franklin Lakes, Open Space Project in Ridgewood (for $450,000 to go towards the acquisition of Schedler), Watershed Property Acquisition in River Vale and Wyckoff Land Acquisition Program in Wyckoff.
The majority of the funding would be provided to “densely-populated” municipalities of 35,000 people or more.
However, there is a way built into the bill that smaller towns would be eligible for certain grants. County-wide, Bergen could receive funds so that municipalities could purchase flood or storm-damaged land. The three dozen towns in Bergen eligible include Mahwah, Franklin Lakes, Ridgewood, Wyckoff, and Ramsey.
All funds would be appropriated through the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The Green Acres funds were originally approved in 2009.