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Princeton Residents Should Vote “Yes” On Ballot Question About Open Space Tax

To the Editor:

It is very important for Princeton citizens to vote ‘yes’ on November 6 on the ballot question about continuing our open space tax (OST). The Township first passed its open space tax in 1997, with the Borough following in 2001. The tax has been instrumental in preserving at least 289 acres of open space, as well as helping to develop recreational facilities at Smoyer Park and to maintain existing parks. The preserved lands include Coventry Farm on the Great Road (92 acres conservation easement, 50 acres purchased in fee); Greenway Meadows Park on Rosedale Road (53 acres purchased); Tusculum Farm on Cherry Hill Road (35 acres purchased, 6+ acres conservation easement); the Ricciardi property between Terhune and Bunn Drive (14+ acres purchased); and the Gulick property between Princeton-Kingston Road, River Road and Herrontown Road (27.5 acres purchased, 11.6-acre conservation easement).

The proposal would authorize a “consolidated” tax of 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which would keep funding level to what it is now with the two separate taxes. We need these funds to be eligible for Green Acres 50 percent matching grants, as well as to match grants from the County. These funds will be critical for acquiring over 350 acres of additional lands and trail linkages identified for protection in our joint community Master Plan. Importantly, the OST gives Princeton the financial flexibility to be able to strike while the iron is hot, to acquire tracts that are needed to maintain our clean lakes and streams, for protection from flooding, and for the preservation of critical habitat.

The 1.7-cent Open Space Tax was recommended by the Transition Task Force and is supported by both mayoral candidates. It will help maintain the quality of life we treasure in Princeton for the future. We urge everyone to vote “yes” for it on November 6.

Wendy L. Mager President

Friends of Princeton Open Space

Dear Editor:

What wonderful open spaces we in Princeton have preserved over the years. We have protected natural habitats and critical wetlands, sweeping meadows and pristine woodlands – Mountain Lakes, The Institute Woods, Coventry Farm, Greenway Meadows and Barbara Smoyer Park to name just a few. Our many successful preservation projects in the 21st century have been realized thanks to our municipal open space taxes and partnerships with D&R Greenway Land Trust, the Friends of Princeton Open Space, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Mercer County and the State of New Jersey’s Green Acres program.

On November 6 we have an opportunity to make certain that open space preservation continues in Princeton. As a current board member of the D&R Greenway Land Trust and a former mayor of Princeton Township, I urge voters to vote “yes” on the Open Space ballot question in the upcoming election. I’m also a long-time resident who so enjoys the open spaces that we have successfully preserved over the years. Let’s continue the good work of Princeton Township, Princeton Borough and our nonprofit and government partners in preserving open space in our community by voting “yes” on November 6.

Cate Litvack

Laurel Road

To the Editor:

Princeton residents have an important opportunity to protect clean water and the environment on Election Day. A “yes” vote for the Princeton Open Space Trust Fund public question will continue Princeton’s long, successful tradition of land preservation. The Princeton Community has made great strides in preserving a variety of types of lands to protect clean water and the environment and provide both active and passive recreation for residents. For that to continue, voters must act.

The job of preserving land in Princeton is not complete. In fact there are several hundred acres that are neither developed nor protected. Building on these areas would cause more congestion, more traffic, and require more costly services, while preserving land protects our water and our quality of life.

A “yes” vote for the Princeton Open Space Trust Fund public question will continue the open space levy after consolidation of the new Princeton is complete. All residents of the consolidated town will pay the same rate of 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value, about $1.60 a week on a $500,000 home. Under the ballot measure, roughly the same amount of funding will be available for open space protection and management as is currently collected by the Township and the Borough.

The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is pleased to have had the opportunity to partner with Princeton on a number of preservation efforts and with a “yes” vote on November 6 is eager to continue that partnership. We are proud to have supported the establishment of the Princeton Ridge Preserve to further protect the mature forests, abundant wetlands, steep slopes, and boulder fields, the Princeton Ridge, among the most important and sensitive environmental features in central New Jersey. We are eager to help continue that effort and to help protect additional lands along the town’s streams, an important strategy for protecting clean water and protecting against worsening flooding.

The Watershed Association has worked to protect clean water and a healthy environment in central New Jersey region through conservation, advocacy, science, and education since 1949. Learn more about us at thewatershed.org.

Jim Waltman

Executive Director, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association

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