The Garden State Preservation Trust today approved the Christie Administration’s recommended list of $102.3 million in Green Acres open space acquisition and recreational development projects, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced.
The Garden State Preservation Trust approved $93.3 million in funding for local government and nonprofit group projects in every New Jersey county. In addition to funding approved by the Trust, the Department has identified an additional $9 million to be used for State acquisitions.
“The Christie Administration is committed to protecting New Jersey’s beautiful natural resources by enhancing quality of life throughout the Garden State,” Commissioner Martin said. “The Green Acres program is vital to that mission. This funding targets park improvements, protects greenways and watersheds, and adds to lands that provide a wealth of outdoor recreation activities for everyone.”
A funding request for the list of Green Acres projects approved by the Garden State Preservation Trust will go to the Legislature for consent and then to Gov. Chris Christie for approval.
Green Acres funding is used to leverage many millions of additional preservation dollars through matching federal, state, county, local and nonprofit funds. The projects approved by the Garden State Preservation Trust include $52 million for county and municipal land acquisitions and $36.1 million for development of local parks and recreation facilities.
The state is also awarding $3.7 million to 16 nonprofit groups for land acquisitions and a total of $1 million to six nonprofit organizations for recreation development, as part of the DEP’s mission to expand and protect public lands.
Local funding projects include:
- $1.6 million toward improvements at Newark’s Branch Brook and Weequahic parks to include upgrades for playgrounds, ball fields, building renovations, landscaping, fencing and lighting.
- $1.6 million to continue restoring Hudson County’s Lincoln Park West with a storm water management and landscape irrigation system and completion of the riverfront promenade.
- $1.3 million for continuing improvements to the 84-acre Joseph Medwick Park in Carteret and Woodbridge, such as observation decks overlooking the Rahway River, resurfaced tennis courts, a playground area and extended paved walking/biking paths.
- $1.3 million for restroom renovations, new pavilions, picnic tables, road repaving and a new dock at Garret Mountain in Paterson and Woodland Park.
- $1.1 million for Asbury Park to purchase the development rights to a half-acre North Beach property on which the current redeveloper wants to build townhomes. The city proposes developing a waterfront park there to preserve beach access.
- $825,000 to renovate Belmar’s Maclearie Park, which suffered extensive damage in Superstorm Sandy, for tennis and basketball courts, a tot lot, sailboat storage area, picnic pavilion and seasonal band stage.
- $500,000 to help Long Hill acquire 14 flood-prone properties along the Passaic River that will be demolished and deed-restricted as open space.
- $300,000 for major improvements to Whitman Park in Camden, including upgrades to basketball courts, baseball and football fields, and a new field irrigation system.
- $200,000 for Westwood to acquire flood-damaged and flood-prone properties, demolish the buildings and restore the lands.
- $1.1 million to Perth Amboy to develop a waterfront park at the base of the Victory Bridge that would include a dog park, motorized boat launch, fishing esplanade and cleaning stations.
“The proposed Raritan Riverfront Park will include a play area for both small and large dogs, an ecological walking trail, a motorized boat launch, parking and a picnic and grilling area for families,” Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz said of her city’s project. “These recreational goals will meet the redevelopment initiatives in the master plan and create greater opportunities for waterway access and usage. I want to thank NJDEP for the Green Acres funding that allows us to expand our recreational facilities to all.”
Nonprofit matching grant funding includes:
- $350,000 to the Trust for Public Land toward land acquisition initiatives in 18 project areas from Bergen to Sussex to Cape May counties.
- $175,000 to the Camden Special Services District, which proposes stabilizing the walls and adding a pavilion roof to the historic Joseph Cooper House. The circa-1695 house is the oldest standing structure in the city.
- $175,000 to the Passaic River Rowing Association to develop and expand an existing boathouse in Riverside County Park South in Lyndhurst.
- $150,000 to the Washington Park Association for landscape improvements at Washington Park, on the border of Union City and Jersey City, and Lincoln Park West, along the Hackensack River.
Approximately $9 million will fund land acquisitions for inclusion in state parks, forests, natural areas and wildlife management areas. These projects include:
- Preserving open lands within the Barnegat Bay Watershed, the state’s most widely used recreational resource.
- Protecting the green belt in the Highlands Greenway, a critical water source area for one third of New Jersey’s citizens and a region potentially vulnerable to development.
- Expanding natural areas throughout the state to protect threatened or endangered plant and animal species.
- Protecting open spaces in the 1-million-acre Pinelands reserve to ensure water quality, ecosystem integrity and sustainable agriculture production.
- Increasing public access and land holdings in the Delaware River Watershed Greenway.
- Purchasing additional lands in the Ridge and Valley Greenway region bounded by the Highlands to the east and the uppermost areas of the Delaware River to the west to link between publicly owned lands.
- Partnering with various agencies to preserve additional New Jersey lands in the 14-county Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area, through which General George Washington’s Army passed.
The Green Acres program was created in 1961 as the result of an innovative bond referendum. Working with public and private partners, Green Acres has directly protected more than 680,000 acres of open space and provided hundreds of recreational opportunities for numerous activities, including city parks, natural areas, playgrounds, athletic fields, boat ramps, docks, fishing piers and environmental education. Total protected open space across the state now exceeds 1.4 million acres.
In addition to providing recreation opportunities, Green Acres projects help protect water quality and stimulate economic development by creating jobs, and making cities and towns more attractive places to live and work.
For details on approved funding to local government and nonprofit organizations for open space acquisition and park development, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres/pdf/ga-awards.pdf
For more information about Green Acres, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres/