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 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
Monmouth County Freeholder
Director Tom Arnone says open space is what draws people to the area from more
“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,”
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.