In a joint prepared statement, Democratic candidates Mayor Bob Conley, Council President Astri Baillie and Councilman Ben Wolkowitz discuss the benefits of the Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

“Yes! We continue to support Madison’s Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, that Madison residents overwhelmingly voted for in 2004, Conley, Baillie and Wolkowitz stated.  “Since then, the Open Space Advisory Committee to the Council has helped to fulfill that mandate.  The Luke Miller house was preserved, a pocket park was created to provide green space and aquifer protection, and land was purchased for both passive and active recreation.  Both the 49 acres for the Madison Recreation Complex (MRC) and the Bayley Ellard athletic fields were purchased by leveraging the borough’s open space dollars for grant money from the county and state.  Of the total $13 million paid for the 49 acres, $8.9 million came from state and county grants.

Preservation of these properties has provided the town with much needed playing fields, walking trails, a community garden, and aquifer recharge protection.  The MRC includes two turf fields which have greatly improved the recreational program in Madison.  The cost of building those fields is shared by the borough through the trust fund, the Board of Education and the Madison Athletic Foundation.”

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Baillie, who serves as liaison to the advisory committee, added, “As we move forward, maintaining this funding source is a high priority for us.  Currently, a significant portion of the trust fund is being used to pay down the debt incurred with the MRC and Bayley Ellard land purchases and from the installation of the turf fields.  As we pay down that debt, additional resources will be made available for other projects.  The Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Advisory Committee accepts applications for funding requests and then advises the Madison Borough Council on the projects.  The ideal project is one that combines several funding sources. It is then up to the council to either approve or deny a project. 

2015 has been a busy year for the trust fund. A number of proposed projects were reviewed and then approved by the council.   A drainage and re-seeding project for the Rosedale skating rink will provide our soccer players a greatly improved playing field and should help to even out the ice during the winter months.  The remediation and re-seeding at the Bayley Ellard field complex will not only improve existing fields but insure all are playable.  The trail system and forest conservation plan at the Madison Recreation Complex are finally a reality due to a combination of our open space funds and external grants. The James Building, home to the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts, has been given trust fund dollars to leverage county grant money to restore and preserve this historic jewel in our town’s center.”

The candidates continued, “Moving forward, the Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund will continue to protect Madison’s quality of life and help provide the recreational facilities our residents clearly want.  We need to protect our drinking water, preserve our historic sites, and improve our recreational facilities. 

In the not too distant future, the turf carpet at the MRC will need to be replaced.  Other projects have also been identified that will enhance our existing facilities.  Realistically, these projects can be supported only if we preserve the trust fund, which has brought great benefits to Madison over the last decade. We support the fund because we believe it will continue to benefit Madison in the future.”