TODAY is Election day, In addition to voting for our new governor, there are two ballot initiative, Statewide the increase in the minimum wage, and local the Open Space and Recreation Trust.
Newark, NJ - Newark Municipal Council members Anibal Ramos Jr. and Darrin Sharif joined Newark Citizens for Open Space on Sunday to rally in support of the Newark Open Space Referendum on the November 5th ballot. Supporters gathered at Greater Newark Conservancy before heading out to canvass surrounding neighborhoods to educate voters about the referendum. Municipal Question One, the Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund, would authorize the Municipal Council to establish a dedicated source of funds, through a levy of 1-cent per $100 of assessed property-value to repair, improve and maintain existing parks and to provide access to safe, clean parks, neighborhood playgrounds and playing fields for youth sports.
Under the 2013 budget recently approved by the Newark Municipal Council, property-taxes were reduced by 13 percent from $3.45 to $2.98 per $100 of assessed value. The 1-cent levy for parks would bring that amount to $2.99 per $100, still a 46-cent reduction from the previous rate.
“We urge Newark voters to vote yes on Tuesday, to improve access to safe, clean parks and green spaces throughout the City,” said Newark Citizens for Open Space Chairwoman Pamela Daniels. ”A dedicated source of funding is desperately needed to better maintain our parks, and to provide greater access to parks, playgrounds and open space in many neighborhoods lacking access to these important places.” Every county in New Jersey and over 200 municipalities throughout the state already have voter-approved open space trust funds. Municipalities with such funds are eligible for a greater match from the State Green Acres Program, and can better leverage county and private funds for parks as well. “
Open Space is an essential element to a healthy and family-friendly community,” said Anibal Ramos, Jr. North Ward Councilman, the sponsor of the resolution. “This measure will ensure greenspace investments made over the past few years are protected and expanded by a decision of the people. I applaud my Council colleagues for referring the referendum to the Nov. 5th ballot.” “Access to parks and green spaces is extremely important to the health of our children and families,” said Robin Dougherty, Executive Director of Greater Newark Conservancy. ”We need to provide healthy places to play outdoors and experience nature close to home, which can also provide alternatives to getting involved with gangs, drugs and violence.”
In addition to Greater Newark Conservancy, Municipal Question One, the Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund, has been endorsed by the Ironbound Community Corporation, Ivy Hill Neighborhood Association, La Casa De Don Pedro, the Washington Park Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land. Under the measure, funds would be dedicated to a trust fund and could only be used for the purposes specified. Full public disclosure and review of all spending would be required.
The Newark Citizens for Open Space also recommends that a citizen advisory committee be established to provide additional public oversight of the Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund.