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June 24, 2003

Contact: Peter Boger (609) 984-1795

Programs Help Local Governments in Applying for Funding for Open Space Acquisition

(03/91) TRENTON --- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Green Acres Program and the Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program will hold four workshops in June and July to guide municipal and county officials and nonprofit organizations through the state-funding application process. These workshops are part of the McGreevey Administration's continued commitment to promote open space preservation and to create new parks and recreational areas around the state.

"Given the overwhelming demand from local governments and nonprofits for funding to preserve open space, we wanted to help applicants navigate the process more easily and explore additional funding opportunities they might not otherwise use," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Working with community partners to preserve open space is a vital component of Governor McGreevey's smart growth agenda."

Governor McGreevey's other open space initiatives include a proposal to provide capital gains tax waivers to landowners who sell their property to the state. His constitutional amendment to invest an additional $150 million for creating and enhancing community parks and for preserving open space and farms in the Highlands has passed the Legislature with widespread support and will appear on the November ballot.

During the workshops, DEP will encourage municipal and county government applicants who have a project with a water quality benefit to apply to the Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program (EIFP) for acquisition funds. By holding workshops early in the year, the Green Acres program hopes to inform applicants of this opportunity in time to meet EIFP's early deadlines and to qualify for EIFP funding.

The EIFP is a partnership between the NJDEP and the NJ Environmental Infrastructure Trust (Trust). The EIFP provides low-cost financing to municipal, county, and other local government units as well as to water purveyors for the construction of wastewater, drinking water and stormwater or nonpoint source pollution management projects, including open space acquisition that provides a water quality benefit.

Financing through EIFP provides a rate equal to one-quarter of the current market rate and results in a loan structure that reduces annual debt service significantly when compared to local financing options. The EIFP has no limit on the amount of money that a borrower can finance to acquire land and the funds can be used as a local match for land acquisition projects funded through Green Acres.

The Green Acres program protects environmentally sensitive open space, water resources and other significant natural and historic resources and provides parks for New Jersey residents and visitors to enjoy. Green Acres partners with, and provides grants and low interest loans to, qualifying county and municipal government agencies and nonprofit land conservancies who work to further these same goals.

Since Green Acres was established in 1961, the program has protected more than 517,000 acres of open space and developed hundreds of recreation facilities. Statewide, more than 1.2 million acres of open space and farmland have been preserved.

This year's workshops are scheduled for:

  • June 27 at Cumberland County College, Vineland, from 9:30 to 3:30,
  • July 17 at Brick Township Municipal Building, Brick, from 9 to 3,
  • July 23 at Mercer County Boathouse, West Windsor, from 9 to 3, and
  • July 31 at Charles Watters Community Service Building (formerly the Museum Building), Paramus, from 9 to 3.

Pre-registration is required for all workshops. There is a nominal fee, which covers breakfast, lunch and handouts, of $25 per person and $20 for each additional member from the same municipality or organization. To register, contact Nancee May, Green Acres workshop coordinator, at (609) 984-0570.



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