When I was a young child, a few pennies could go a long way. I have fond memories of getting more than my fair share from a selection of Razzles, Bazooka Joe bubble gum and Astro Pops from the corner store. I’d pick out my favorites, head to the counter and pluck down a few cents. However, my friends and I figured out that if we put all of our pennies together, we’d be able to get more than we could ever imagine. With huge smiles on our faces after our purchase, we’d hop on our bicycles, ride to the park and divvy out our loot, undoubtedly spoiling our dinners by eating up all of our sweets before supper.
Although times have now changed, believe it or not a penny can still buy you a lot. And for the residents of Edison, NJ putting those pennies together can buy hundreds of acres of open space.
In 1999, Edison Township established the Open Space Trust Fund. It was created to help preserve and protect public open spaces, environmental resources and the creation of new recreational facilities. Funded at the rate of $0.01 per $100 of assessed value, it cost a typical homeowner $17.84 per year. By doing so, the fund was able to preserve 1,758 acres of land – roughly 9% of the Township. These are places where families of Edison frequently visit but may not think twice of how it remains a public open space to enjoy. Parks such as Tingley Lane Park, Oak Tree-Stephenville Park, Stevens Preserve, Papaianni Park, Oakcrest Swim Club, and Kilmer Fields.
So why is it so important to have these municipal parks and open spaces? Apart from improving the environment by decreasing air pollution and the reduction of stormwater treatment, parks and open spaces help improve our physical and psychological health. A report published by The Trust for Public Land found that residents in “greener” environments report fewer health complaints and more often rate themselves as being “in good health.” Additionally, a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “creation of or enhanced access to places for physical activity led to a 25.6 percent increase in the percentage of people exercising on three or more days per week.”
Unfortunately, the Open Space Trust Fund ended in 2014 but it is now time to renew the fund. Through the registered voters of Edison Township, a vote of “yes” on November 6th will renew the Open Space Trust Fund and be used to support all parks and open space lands in the Township. It will also allow the Township to apply for matching funds from the State and County to purchase additional property for neighborhood parks and open space, reducing the density of developed lands in the Township.
Plain and simple, we need to put all of our pennies together. In return, what the residents of Edison will receive from the numerous benefits of public green spaces will be more than you ever imagined.
For an FAQ on the Edison Township Municipal Open Space Trust Fund, please click here.