Middletown officials discuss topic of preserving open space in the township

It's the time of the year when local towns start promoting ballot referendums for the upcoming Nov. 3 general election, and people in Middletown have the choice of paying more money for the promise of more open space.
Mayor Tony Perry made his pitch to voters on Wednesday at Poricy Park, which includes 160 acres of natural land, fields and woodlands. The last time the trust fund saw an increase was back in 2002.
The question is are voters willing to pay more to the open space trust fund? Mayor Perry says, he thinks so. 
“So that gives the township an incredible ability to go out there and acquire property,” says Mayor Perry. “Our open space are historic farmlands, revitalize our beaches and then make necessary upgrades to our recreational facilities.”
The plan is to raise the open space trust collection from two cents to three cents per $100 in equalized valuation, with the goal to add millions of dollars to the fund, purchase 30 properties and maintain those already in the possession of Middletown.
“People freeze, and they say, ‘why should I vote for this?’, but you know what, it's a dedicated tax,” says Mayor Perry. “It doesn't go into a black hole that can be spent on other things. It can only be spent on preserving and revitalizing our open space and parks.”
Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone says open space is what draws people to the area from more crowded communities. 
“The cost factor of keeping the open space and allowing people to have the resource for this and then more importantly when you take a look at the actual cost if it was developed and you really dig down into the numbers, you say wow it's actually a cost savings,” says Arnone.
With rising costs of living, tolls, and gas in New Jersey, Mayor Perry says he recognizes it may be a hard sell to some voters. The average person will end up paying around $20 more a year if it passes.