I recently received the endorsement of the Sierra Club, and I was greatly excited. In the 24th District and elsewhere there is a need to preserve open space. In Sussex County, I feel that we are the stewards for clean drinking water, and we seem destined to remain an eco-tourism area with farms preserved, state parks, and wildlife that are so precious.
I agree with the head of the Sierra Club Jeff Tittel that “We need a long-term, stable source of funding to protect our most environmentally sensitive areas and we do need to expand our park system- most especially in urban areas, but also in areas of the 24th District and state-wide. This is not only Jeff, or I, saying this; it is you the citizenry in polls and your own habits in utilizing parks whether in High Point, Sandy Hook, beautiful parks in Bergen County, Branchbrook and its Cherry blossoms in Newark or elsewhere in this high density of population that is the make-up of New Jersey. Open Space also generates obvious economic and growing markets in the process.
The recent stalemate over funding in Trenton was indeed deplorable, as stalemates continue here, as well as Washington. There was a proposal this summer to dedicate $200 million from existing sales tax revenue, as a source of funding. There was opposition from the Governor, the Republicans in the Senate, the Assembly and by organizations that I support, such as, the New Jersey Policy Perspective, and the Working Families Alliance, and for the last two I understand, as there could have been some cutting of vital programs for a struggling middle class, and the working poor!
Below I have incorporated some of the following suggestions from Jeff Tittel, but he knows best that without funding for open space preservation we will see logging on public lands, more sneaky deals to direct public lands to private developers, and in the end, we will have less open space to enjoy for a variety of purposes:
1. Renewed funding and refinancing from Green Acres and Garden State Preservation Trust Bonds.
2. Extra brownfields development funding. This funding in the past has reopened areas in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Monies received from the Corporate Business Tax could and should go towards opens pace and, yes, urban parks.
3. A Plastic bag bill, which would set aside a 5-cent fee on plastic bags, which do cause issues, but instead help fund again open space and parkland.
The above and other proposals can generate funding to keep this state on track with other states. Clean water, open parks and beaches, and farmland preservation are the way to respite for all of us and enjoyment in a state that’s density of population remains high, and, thus, the needs for open space are great and ever-lasting. Finally, I am 100% against Fracking in New Jersey-not only in the Delaware Basin, but there are proposals for other areas, including the Newark Basin and environs.
Bill Weightman, Democratic Assembly Candidate for the 24th District- Sussex, Warren, and Morris Counties
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