LIVINGSTON, NJ — A $500,000 Green Acres grant was recently awarded to the Township of Livingston to be used for Open Space Acquisition and Planning.

The grant from the 27th District Legislative Team of Governor Richard Codey, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and Assemblyman John McKeon is part of $80.7 million announced by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Green Acres Program for local governments and nonprofit land trusts to acquire open space, develop parks, and perform stewardship activities on parks throughout New Jersey.

McKeon said the grant is “great news for the residents of Livingston” and demonstrates the kind of projects that the open space funding helps to make possible. He also congratulated the Livingston Township Council and Livingston Mayor Shawn Klein on the grant award, which he said will improve the quality of life for all Livingston residents.

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"Open Space in Essex County is something that is at a major premium,” said McKeon. “Preserving land is key to preserving our natural resources as well as the quality of life for our residents and future generations to enjoy. The Legislature worked hard to get funding approved, and the voters overwhelmingly supported the initiative.”

According to the legislative team, funding comes from the Preserve New Jersey Act (P.L. 2016, C12), the enabling legislation for funding approved by voters in 2014, as well as loan and interest repayments, interest earnings and previously approved projects that did not come to fruition.

“Over-development outside of our downtown commercial centers causes congestion on our roads, in our schools and can change a town's character,” said Klein, who added that green spaces in developed communities like Livingston are at a premium. “Maintaining our green spaces makes towns like Livingston remain breathable and feel open and it is a high priority for our council.”

Klein added that Livingston has representatives at the state level like Codey, McKeon and Jasey to thank for helping Livingston to fund purchases that will “keep Livingston beautiful.”

“Open space provides invaluable opportunities for our residents to enjoy active and passive recreation, and our towns put tremendous thought and effort into insuring the best use for open space funding money they receive,” said Jasey. “I am thrilled that Livingston will have this funding available to make their projects a reality, a scarcity of municipal dollars makes it virtually impossible to go it alone.”

Codey noted that open space funding is an crucial tool for District 27 communities, as it helps “slow down development, preserve the character of the town and build or expand parks.” He said he is confident that the residents of Livingston will be “well served” by this grant.