Gov. Phil Murphy proposed more than $100 million in investment spending for urban parks, playgrounds, and open spaces through the state’s Green Acres program.
The proposal, which still requires final approval from the Garden State Preservation Trust, would both establish new parks and expand existing ones. Additionally, new open spaces would be built, access to waterways would be improved, and athletic fields and playgrounds would be developed.
“The proposed projects will provide equitable and meaningful access to urban parks, help address the impacts of climate change, and advance our long-term resilience goals. Investing in our communities through these projects will improve the quality of life for families living across New Jersey now and in the future,” said Murphy.
The Green Acres Program, created in 1961 to serve the Garden State’s recreation and conservation needs, has protected more than a half million acres of open space in New Jersey. The Garden State has more than 20% of its land dedicated to parks and wildlife, more than any other state in the continental U.S.
The Garden State Preservation Trust will consider the recommended and forward final recommendations to the Legislature for funding approval.
Included in the provisions are $42.2 million in grants and loans for 49 park development projects, with 84% for local park development projects. Additionally, $35.8 million was allocated for grants and loans for 57 county and municipal land acquisitions projects.
Nonprofit organizations would also play a role, with $8.8 million set for these organizations to acquire land and $4.9 million for park development projects.
Among the North Jersey projects are:
Bergen County Projects
- Riverside County Park in Lyndhurst and North Arlington would see improvements under the plan, including new access points, walkways, footbridges, and more;
- Improvements were planned for Hackensack’s Carver Park and Columbus Park;
Essex County Projects
- Newark’s Broadway Park would be developed in partnership with the Trust for Public Land;
- East Orange’s Oval Park would see many improvements, including turf restoration, and basketball court resurfacing;
Hudson County Projects
- Passaic Avenue and Bellevue Turnpike in Kearny could see improvements, including a new floating dock and ramps along the Passaic River;
- Union City proposed acquiring a small land parcel on Palisade Avenue to redevelop into a soccer field for younger children;
Passaic County Projects
- Passaic City’s Dundee Island Park would be upgraded in partnership including Passaic County, local government, and the Trust for Public Land;
- Passaic would improve Veteran’s Memorial Park and Pulaski Park, with a focus on restoring and adding athletic features and installing new security cameras.
“From our incredible Green Acres investments in local parks, to our historic investments in the restoration of natural resources throughout the state, including at Liberty State Park, our Administration has put its money where its heart is,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette. “We are accelerating our work to put all of New Jersey’s residents in touch with their environment, with a long overdue focus on those communities that have not shared equally in the environmental benefits of our great state.”
“Investments” are monies that are spent with the intent that they will produce greater economic results than the amount originally spent. Parks don’t provide an economic return so money spent of parks is not an “investment” it just an expense. And a worthwhile one that the government shouldn’t be embarrassed about.
Misuse of the term “investment” seems to be the latest attempt by government (which doesn’t understand the concept of “investing”) to make expenditures more palatable. Are citizens that stupid or is government so disconnected from reality that it thinks citizens are stupid?
Spending (not “investing”) on parks is a good thing. Don’t be ashamed to tell the truth.