Open Space Background
Borough voters, at the November 2, 1999 General Election, approved a referendum establishing an Open Space Trust Fund which is funded through the collection of local property taxes in an amount of $0.01 per $100 of assessed value for a period of five years. The total amount that this tax currently yields is approximately $118,000 per year. These funds are designated for the purchase of open space so as to preserve such land as open space and to keep it in its natural state and, if no open space is available for purchase, then the moneys are to be used for such other recreation, conservation, farmland preservation or historic preservation purposes as may be permitted by law, to be determined following a public hearing.
What Has Been Done
The first major task of the Borough was to prepare and prioritize a list of potential sites for open space preservation. The Borough initially based its review on a report entitled "Open Space Preservation Strategies" as prepared by Hakim Associates. Each of the 36 sites listed in the report were personally visited and merits of each were considered. The Mayor and Council then evaluated the sites in order of desirability.
The open space funds that the Borough has collected since 1999 have been instrumental in the Borough's purchase of several critical parcels throughout the Borough, including Washington Woods (on Washington Avenue overlooking Lake Tappan), Oakes Park on Central Avenue, the Vandervoot Avenue property adjacent to the Police Station, the wooded property adjacent to the Haring Drive footpath and Bonnabel Park on Old Tappan Road. Loan and grant programs through the State and County, such as the Green Acres Program and the County Open Space program, require for municipalities to contribute to the cost of acquiring open space and the open space levy has been the primary source of municipal funds for leveraging these State and County programs.
Open space funds are also used for improving parks and playgrounds, trails and open space improvements that are great for community and the environment.