TRENTON, N.J. – The Garden State Preservation Trust has approved and recommended to the New Jersey State Legislature nearly $87 million in funding for projects to develop or update parks, playgrounds and fields, which includes spaces in Gloucester and Camden Counties.
Governor Phil Murphy and Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe have recommended the projects for approval through the DEP’s Green Acres Program.
“Each of the projects recommended for funding by the independent Garden State Preservation Trust helps build New Jersey’s outstanding parks, recreation and open space inventories,” Governor Murphy said. “These grants and loans will benefit urban and suburban communities across the state by giving people opportunities to engage in healthy activities, appreciate the outdoors and enjoy time with their families.”
McCabe said that funding through the Green Acres Program helps with the quality of life in New Jersey.
“Green Acres funding is a powerful tool that helps New Jersey improve the quality of life for residents by improving parks, acquiring land and creating multiple opportunities for active and passive recreation,” Commissioner McCabe said.
Pitman in Gloucester County proposes acquiring land next to Alcyon Lake Park to offer an additional 20 acres of land for passive recreation while increasing the natural buffer between development of land to the southwest owned by Rowan University.
Camden County plans plazas, pavilions, decks, baseball fields, landscaping, fencing, gabion walls, lighting, signage, parking improvements, walkways and riparian buffers for Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill Township, Pennsauken Township, Camden, and Collingswood Borough.
Construction or rehabilitation of basketball courts and baseball fields, a multi-purpose synthetic turf field and a new concession/restroom building at Whitman Park in Camden City. New playground equipment and a safety surface, as well as park furnishings and landscaping will be installed. Irrigation, lighting and fencing upgrades are also planned.
The Garden State Preservation Trust approved $26.4 million for municipal and county land acquisition projects, $46.3 million for local development of parks and recreation facilities, $5 million for local stewardship projects, $6.1 million for acquisition projects by nonprofit organizations, $1.9 million for recreational development and $800,000 for nonprofit stewardship projects. The Legislature must now approve legislation to formally appropriate the funds for the projects.
The Garden State Preservation Trust-approved projects will establish new parks and expand existing ones, develop athletic fields and playgrounds, improve access to waterways, create open space, and enhance stewardship by restoring lands for nature and public enjoyment.
Green Acres funding allows governments and nonprofits to leverage millions of additional preservation dollars through matching federal, state, county and local funds, as well as from private sources.
The DEP is a partner in the Governor’s Population Health Challenge, which calls on state agencies to promote health through their policies. Studies have found that investments in parks and recreational amenities positively impact health and fitness, resulting in less strain on the health-care system. Studies also demonstrate that people are likely to be more physically active if they live close to parks and recreational facilities.
According to the state, Green Acres projects create jobs and stimulate economic development by making communities more attractive places to live and work, consequently boosting civic pride. They also improve air and water quality.
For more information about the Green Acres Program as well as a more detailed listing of projects, visit www.NJGreenAcres.org.