Support Open Space Referendum by Voting "YES" on November 8th

e033d6d8f22a090e5085_guest_column.jpg
e033d6d8f22a090e5085_guest_column.jpg

The New Providence Borough Council instituted the Open Space Trust Fund in 2004. It provides for the collection of taxes for the purpose of acquiring open space within New Providence. This is not a new tax. The question in front of voters: Should the OSTF be used to fund improvements to existing open space, passive or active recreation facilities? In order to become an educated voter, I set out to read what I could find on the topic. In order to gain an important perspective, I thought it made sense to simply walk around the Borough and ask the questions; “am I happy with what I see?” and “what doesn’t belong and why?”

This approach reminded me of when my wife and I moved here in 1990. We weren’t initially in love with the house we were thinking about purchasing, but the charm of a small town with a great school system helped us see beyond all of the home’s flaws. We had ambition but honestly, anyone who’s seen a picture of that overgrown, un-kept property on Charnwood Road back then would think we were crazy to buy it. Some doubted our choice, but we carefully assessed the opportunity, developed a plan, accepted that it would take time and additional resources, but we took it on.  Within my observations of our community infrastructure and I can’t help but believe the Borough needs to take the same approach.

As I traveled throughout New Providence over the past couple of months, I saw the only parcel of existing open space the Borough's acquired to date and while that decision to purchase was a wise one, the land remains a wooded lot adjacent to Veteran’s Park, impassible to walk through, aesthetically unpleasing and fallow compared to the park area itself. I walked to the rear of Lions Field off Livingston Avenue and saw a blighted area that time has forgotten about. I walked Hillview Field and saw a sprinkler system and drains that no longer work. I passed by Jaycee Park and saw a playground that doesn’t have a restroom, let alone a drinking fountain for our kids on hot summer days. I went past all the baseball fields and noticed rutted infields, weed inundated outfields and fences needing to be updated to perhaps meet current specifications. With all that New Providence offers, I could hear myself saying "what doesn't belong and why" because I clearly was not happy with what I saw.

Sign Up for E-News

These observations are not revelations to residents but serve as reminders to the property we already own that has fallen into disrepair and needing improvement.  This is not an indictment of the administration’s lack of concern for the quality of existing open space, but perhaps a result of their concern to keep taxes low.  However, I've concluded that in reality, we live within 3.6 square miles in which there isn’t a lot of open space left to acquire. That while we've admittedly not invested in the open space, park and recreational infrastructure we already own, that no one wants to see a tax increase to fund the improvements, which are necessary to improve the value of our “home,” or in this case, our community. At the same time, residents have to realize that when land is acquired through open space, it typically results in a ratable coming of the Borough's tax books, which requires a deficit offset by new revenues in the form of a tax increase, albeit a modest one.

We are compared against neighboring towns not only on athletic fields and in the quality of the education provided in the classroom, but also within the infrastructure and amenities within our community, all of which influence our property values. Unfortunately, we are losing the last battle. I urge you to take a quick trip to our neighboring towns to get the real picture of just how far behind New Providence has fallen, but also compel voters to take action to get us back in the game. 

There’s $650,000 currently sitting in the OSTF, which increases $32,500 annually from the $7 collected from tax revenues that you already pay into municipal open space each year.  Without much opportunity to put these funds to use to acquire land, we can pursue a balanced approach to open space by making necessary improvements to property we already own now while maintaining preparedness should opportunities arise to acquire land in the future.  Our neighbors to the west in Chatham approved expanding the use of open space funds recently, which will help fuel plans to improve their infrastructure.  To me, this is a wise and responsible path for New Providence to take as well, but every voter needs to get involved and help make it happen.

New Providence is the home of the Pioneers. According to Webster’s, a pioneer is not only one of the first to settle in a territory, but also a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity or a new method or technical development. The new line of thought in this case needs to be the choice to improve our community by making the necessary investment in our Borough property, and the new method is to accomplish this goal through expanding the use of open space funds instead of raising our taxes.

By voting “YES” on the Open Space Referendum on Nov. 8, you can help make it possible to fix up our open spaces, improve our community, our quality of life and increase our property values while maintaining fiscal responsibility within local government.

New Providence: Nice Place, Nice People... New Possibilities. Vote “YES” on Open Space on Nov. 8th.

 The Guest Column is our readers' opportunity to write about a given issue or topic in an in-depth and educational manner.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Chatham

A Week at the Library of The Chathams Monday, February 19 – Sunday, February 25, 2018

PROGRAMS AND EVENTS

By Galina Natenzon

Friends of the Library are continuing their book collection in preparation for Annual Book Sale.  Kids are off from school on Monday for Presidents’ Day – bring them to the library!  We have plenty for them to do.  For adults, Professor Licklider’s second lecture on North Korea will take place on Tuesday.  The ...

A Week at the Library of The Chathams - Monday, February 5 – Sunday, Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Week at the Library of The Chathams

Monday, February 5 – Sunday, Sunday, February 11, 2018

PROGRAMS AND EVENTS

By Galina Natenzon

Friends of the Library book collection continues.  The tax season is here, and dedicated volunteers are here to help you with you tax returns!

For information about all programs or to sign up, please call the library at 973‑635‑0603 or go to ...

Imagine a Chatham Toboggan Ride from the Top of Fairmount Avenue to Main Street

Did you know….
there was a time when Chatham kids could ice skate from downtown Chatham all the way to Florham Park? And that a toboggan ride could last from the top of Fairmount Avenue down to Main Street and beyond?

Those were the days!

This was back in the early to mid-1900s. The Passaic River meandered through grassy meadows and woods on the north side of Chatham. The marshy ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M7euCp86-c

AtlantiCast Episode 011

Breaking Atlantic Health System news on this week’s AtlantiCast! Plus, find out why Morristown Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the nation when it comes to recovering from joint surgery, see the newest center for fighting brain cancer and an Atlantic Health System red-carpet premiere!

 

Sara Irish of Chatham Named to Saint Joseph's University Dean's List

February 18, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Sara Irish of Chatham earned Dean's List honors at Saint Joseph's University for the Fall 2017 semester.

Irish studies Risk Management and Insurance in the University's Erivan K. Haub School of Business. Students must achieve a grade point average of 3.5 or above, a B or greater in all their classes, and complete at least 15 credits to earn Dean's ...