Keep it Green – Oct 2007

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release:
October 3, 2007

Contact:
John Malay, Media Coordinator, Keep It Green Coalition – 908.419.4264, john.malay@njaudubon.org
Eric Stiles, New Jersey Audubon Society908.240.9316, eric.stiles@njaudubon.org

Bernards Cape May & Conservation Groups To Showcase
Open Space Preservation and Advocate For Ballot Question #3

Basking Ridge, NJ – Joined by Somerset County Freeholder Denise Coyle and Bernards Mayor Mary Pavlini, local officials and environmental activists met at the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead on King George Road to urge New Jersey voters to approve statewide public question #3 the Green Acres, Farmland, Blue Acres, and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2007. The property highlights the great community benefits of successful preservation in New Jersey, requiring local, county, statewide, and nonprofit collaboration.

Purchased in 1999 with money from the Bernards Open Space Trust Fund, the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead has benefited from State, county and local funding for on-going restoration projects. The farmstead features an “English” barn, a distinct 18th Century style. Portions of the original farm house are in the process of restoration with funding from the New Jersey Historic Trust. Other structures and out buildings on the property are being evaluated for future restoration.

Mayor Mary Pavlini stated, “The Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead represents a great example of the benefits of preservation partnerships between many levels of government and private citizens. The Farmstead as we see it today represents an on-going project funded by municipal, county and state government, with contributions of time, effort and money from private citizens and preservation professionals. Without continued funding of the state’s preservation efforts, projects like these will cease to exist and our historic heritage will be lost forever.”

There are also critical wetlands on the property and it borders the Passaic River, a source of drinking water for millions of New Jersey residents. In addition to the farmstead, the property has a municipal soccer field providing recreation facilities for the town. Future plans potentially include a canoe launch along the Passaic River. Without preservation funding made available through the passage of public question #3 on this November’s ballot these community benefits may never become a reality.

“Our landscape – with its rich heritage, diverse natural habits, prime agricultural resources, and cultural and historic significance – must be preserved to insure the quality of life of our residents,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Denise Coyle. “Preserving open space is a top priority for Somerset County. In fact, we have one of the most aggressive open-space preservation programs in the state. The county has already acquired nearly 10,000 acres towards our goal of preserving 20,000 acres of open space.”

 

Township Engineer and project overseer Peter Messina and Director of the non-profit Friends of the Farmstead, John Campbell also spoke at the event. Comments from John Campbell, of Friends of the Farmstead, the non-profit group leading the preservation, highlighted the cooperative nature of state, county and local government funding at the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead as well as the need to ensure the successful passage of public question #3 on November 6th.

“These open spaces and historic sites provide recreational opportunities for New Jersey’s citizens and visitors and are critical to creating a high quality of life, livable communities and sustainable economies in places like Bernards,” stated Joanna Wolaver, Conservation Project Coordinator for New Jersey Audubon Society

Passage of the Green Acres, Farmland, Blue Acres, and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2007 would allow vital preservation programs at sites such as the KMS Farmstead to continue uninterrupted while a long-term, stable funding source for the Garden State Preservation Trust, which is quickly running out of money, can be identified and secured.

“A ‘Yes’ vote on Ballot Question #3 is truly an investment in our future,” explained Mark Zakutansky, NJ ‘Keep It Green Campaign’ staff member, “With additional grassroots support, and by expanding our campaign partners and endorsements, the ‘Keep It Green Campaign’ plans to reach every New Jersey voter and provide them with a clear rationale for voting ‘Yes’ to protect New Jersey’s threatened natural and cultural resources before they are lost forever,”

These funds will help protect and maintain our clean drinking water; provide safe and attractive playgrounds and urban parks for our children; preserve precious farmland to maintain our agricultural heritage; finance the Blue Acres program to purchase flood prone properties from willing sellers; and purchase and maintain the State’s numerous historic sites. Preserving open space, farmland, and historic sites supports our local economy by stabilizing local property taxes and protecting our quality of life.

If approved by voters in November, the bond act will allow the State Treasurer to issue general obligation bonds totaling $200 million with $109 million directed to the Green Acres program, $73 million for farmland preservation, $12 million for the Blue Acres program to purchase flood prone properties, and $6 million for historic preservation purposes.

In order to allow municipalities like Bernards and counties like Somerset to continue their open space, historic and farmland preservation efforts, the ‘Keep It Green Campaign’ continues to reach out to municipal governments, businesses and grassroots organizations, through flyers, posters and resolutions of support, to help spread the preservation message to New Jersey residents. The successful passage of public question #3 will not only provide $200 million in desperately needed funds to the Green Acres, Farmland, Blue Acres, and Historic Preservation programs, but will send a clear message that New Jersey voters overwhelmingly value the continued protection of our state’s natural and cultural heritage.

For more information on this ballot question, please visit http://www.NJKeepItGreen.org.

The New Jersey Keep It Green Campaign is a coalition of over 90 organizations from across the state working to ensure the passage of the Green Acres, Farmland, Blue Acres and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2007 this November. For more information on how you can help, please visit http://www.NJKeepItGreen.org or contact Mark Zakutansky at 609-392-5830 or mark.zakutansky@njaudubon.org .

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