This evening at City Hall, there will be an educational forum to familiarize the community with the Newark Open Space & Recreation Trust Fund, Municipal question No. 1 on the Tuesday, November 5th election ballot. There will be an open discussion with panelists, Karim Arnold, Director of Neighborhood and Recreational Services,
City of Newark and Damon Rich, Planning Director & Chief Urban Designer City of Newark, on how this measure affects recent and future green space development and maintenance efforts in the City. Receive a full description of the ballot language, as well as a copy of the Newark Citizens for Open Space “Principals of Implementation,” our guidelines for next steps should the referendum pass.
Principles for Program Implementation
If voters approve the Nov. 5th referendum to authorize the establishment of an Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund for the City of Newark, the Newark Citizens for Open Space recommend and support the following principles to be addressed in implementation of the program, to be included in the enabling ordinance the Municipal Council would need to adopt following the referendum:
Require a Citizen Oversight Committee- to advise the Municipal Council in establishing program priorities and to review and recommend projects proposed for funding on an annual basis. Prioritize Park and Greenspace Maintenance- to address the widespread need to better maintain parks and greenspaces throughout the city, and to create jobs maintaining and improving City parks and greenspaces. A partnership should be established with the prisoner re-entry and One-Stop programs for park maintenance efforts.
Ensure That Funds are Additive- Funds generated should be above and beyond funds currently allocated to park maintenance. The current park maintenance budget should be disclosed and established as the baseline, with maintenance funds at least doubled on an annual basis going forward.
Establish a Parks Director and Department- Proper maintenance of City parks and administration of the Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund should be handled by a designated and qualified Parks Director and Department within the City.
Prohibit the Use of Eminent Domain to Acquire Parkland- Funds from the Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund should only be used to acquire land for parks from voluntary, willing sellers (for occupied residential or commercial properties). Eminent Domain could be used to condemn vacant properties for parks or open space if needed and appropriate.
Annual Reporting- At least once per year, a report should be prepared and released to the public detailing how open space and recreation trust funds have been expended. Prioritize Underserved Areas- for any new park or green-space acquisition or development projects.
The Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund would be supported through a levy of 1-cent per $100 of assessed property value that is expected to generate $1.1 million annually. Every county in New Jersey, including Essex, and more than half of all municipalities have voter-approved funds similar to what is proposed in Newark. In November 2012, East Orange voters overwhelmingly voted to create a new open space trust fund. “Having local, dedicated funds would help the City to improve, repair and maintain parks, as well as support jobs related to these activities,” said Pamela Daniels, Chair of Newark Citizens for Open Space. “More resources are needed to make safety and other improvements to our parks, and to ensure we can adequately maintain them for the public to enjoy.” The 2012 Newark Master Plan identified the need to make parks more secure, attractive and enjoyable for people, improve maintenance and programming at existing parks, and expand access to quality open space and recreation in neighborhoods which don’t have enough parks. Despite numerous new park and playground openings in recent years, Newark still has one of the lowest park acreages per capita of any major city in the country (3.1 acres per 1,000 residents). More than 30% of children under 14 live more than ¼ mile from any park land. Newark Citizens for Open Space will be educating voters throughout the City leading up to the Nov. 5th Election through a variety of outreach efforts to the community. For more information, or to get involved, please visit http://newarkopenspace.weebly.com, ‘Newark For Open Space’ on Facebook, or Twitter @Nwk4OpenSpace.
Citizens urged to vote “Yes” on Nov. 5th