Home > Uncategorized > Public Parks Funding Would Be Slashed To Pay for Open Space Program

Public Parks Funding Would Be Slashed To Pay for Open Space Program

Open Space Proposal Would Divert $32 Million/Yr Dedicated To Parks & Recreation

Public Parks Pay for Private Land

Urban Underinvestment Exacerbated

The Assembly votes today on the open space funding issues.

So, as a followup to yesterday’s post about why we think the current proposal is a bad idea, we thought we’d add one more point that has gotten little attention, as far as I can see.

I find it almost incomprehensible that an issue of this magnitude could remain under the radar and not a matter of public debate.

It is no secret that, even as attendance climbs, NJ’s State Parks are crumbling and in need of significant investments to address deferred maintenance.

It is also no secret that NJ’s urban areas and urban populations are under-served and lack adequate parks and recreational areas.

Those urban areas have not been allocated an equitable share of parks or open space funds. This is another example of environmental injustice.

So, I was curious if Assembly Democrats were aware of the fact that the current proposal would cut $32 million per year dedicated for parks and recreation and divert that money to open space purchases?

[Update: a reader notes that the Assembly version of SCR84 (ACR130) was never heard in an Assembly Committee!)

This shift in funding would compound gross inequities in the geographical distribution of both the State Parks and Open Space funding for urban area and parks, which are located in primarily Democratic districts.

Instead, that money would flow to the Open Space program – and that program has its own equity problems with respect to the geographic allocation of funds.

Perhaps even worse, public parks funding would be shifted to “stewardship” grants, including the payment of administrative costs of private elite conservation organizations, groups with little or no history of acting in the public interest, and with little transparency or accountability to any community or to implement any community vision or publicly endorsed plan.

(Do you think Audubon will conduct a lot of urban community outreach to work on designing a community park or garden? Do you think residents of an urban community would have more influence on City Council or the Board of NJCF when it comes to making funding decisions about open space and parks development?)

See table below, where that $32 million parks cut is hidden and dishonestly partially described – conveniently leaving out the word “parks” – as “recreational land development”, but here is there language on parks from the Senate Budget Committee Statement regarding fund allocations under current law:

15% for financing improvements and facilities for recreation and conservation purposes on parks and other preserved open space lands.  …

Further, under the current constitutional dedication, on January 1, 2016 the 17% allocation for diesel air pollution control programs (#4 above) expires and the moneys are reallocated to supplement the 15% dedication for financing improvements and facilities for recreation and conservation purposes on parks and other preserved open space lands, thereby increasing the dedication allocation for that purpose to a total of 32% 

scr84

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