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Statewide ballot initiative would continue funding for land and historic preservation.

Elizabeth - - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders joined Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage and representatives from the Rahway River Association, the Audubon Society, the New Jersey Conservation Fund, and Groundwork Elizabeth to encourage County residents to support Public Question #3 on the November ballot. This measure would provide a temporary funding source to continue land and historic preservation statewide and in Union County.

County residents can support the measure by voting “yes” on Public Question #3 when they vote on Election Day, Tuesday November 6.

“Today our area is rich in public parklands and historic sites because past generations enthusiastically supported initiatives like Public Question #3,” said Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski. “This is a wonderful opportunity for Union County residents to continue preserving our heritage, by voting ‘yes.’ ”

Public Question #3 asks voters to approve the Green Acres, Farmland, Blue Acres, and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2007.  It will raise $200 million to continue preservation programs for one year while work on a long term source of funding is under way.

A previous funding source, the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund, was a ten-year program approved by statewide referendum in 1998.  The monies in this fund have all been assigned, and there is none left for new acquisitions and new preservation programs.

The imperative to save New Jersey’s remaining open space is growing as the state’s population drifts outward from older communities. It is estimated that New Jersey loses 40 acres of open land to development each day.

“It’s all the more important to continue the funding stream without interruption, because the price of land has been going through the roof,” said Chairwoman Kowalski. “By purchasing land for preservation now, we can save future generations a huge financial burden.”

Bond acts are a reliable way to raise public funds for specific projects. Since 1961, New Jersey voters have approved 11 bond acts for preservation programs, raising approximately $4 billion.

The Bond Act of 2007 includes a new program called Blue Acres, designed to preserve and restore natural storm retention and drainage in flood prone areas.

“Blue Acres rounds out our state’s preservation programs with a much-needed common sense approach to flood control,” explained Freeholder Kowalski. “Natural drainage is an effective and relatively inexpensive way to help prevent flood damage in populated areas.”