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Say “yes” to open space

by MACKENZIE MATIKONIS Staff Writer

A possible ballot question in the near future would be if the state of New Jersey should spend 200 million dollars a year for the next 30 years on open space.

Open space is the preservation of land, farmland, and historic sites forever, so that it can never be developed.

The Green Acres Program preserves land, so it can be used for outdoor recreational purposes, such as parks, athletic fields, trails, etc. It cannot be used for indoor recreation purposes.

Green Acres also uses land for the conservation of the unique ecosystems of the Garden State.

Farmland Preservation prevents farms from being bought and built up. Preserved farms can only be used for agricultural purposes.

Historic land preservation is important for protecting our past.

Bonds were sold by the state to raise money to preserve land, and it was successful, bringing in 400 million dollars.

However, that money is gone as it was used for other purposes. According to Senator Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), there is no more money.

“The pot is empty,” Smith said.

The 200 million dollars to be spent is equivalent to about 1/35 of the state sales tax income, and 1/5 of a cent of sales tax.

The money will be used to buy the land and build trails, athletic fields, and anything else that will help the community.

Yet some people think that this is too much money to spend on open space.

Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club in New Jersey, which promotes environmental conservation, opposes spending that much money because it is “fiscally irresponsible” and will lead to cuts in other programs.

However, the majority supports spending on open space. The vote was 4-1 in the Senate; Senator Jennifer Back (R-Monmouth) rejected it because of the current financial situation of the state.

“I think open space is a good thing, because it protects nature from the greedy builders who want the money. It helps the environment,” said sophomore Jennifer Rodriquez.

Open space lets the state live up to its name. Because of open space, the Garden State stays green and beautiful, rather than ugly and built up.

Preserving farmland encourages more locally grown produce, creating a healthier and more prosperous community.

Open space used for recreational purposes also benefits the community. It gives kids something active to do besides starting gangs and selling drugs. People can go out and spend a relaxing day at the local park, or just go for a walk.

Preserved land can also benefit the economy by raising property values and attracting tourism to the beautiful sights of New Jersey.

“It’s a good thing if they’re going to use the land for like a historic site or sports fields or something, but if it’s just going to sit there, then that’s just stupid,” said sophomore Victoria Marino.

Even if it is stupid to have literal “open space”, at least it is better to look at grass than houses that are 20 feet apart or crowded strip malls littered with trash.

What do you think? Should NJ spend the $200 million to preserve open space?

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