October 21, 2021
New Jersey officials seek to invest more than $100 million to improve parks, playgrounds and open spaces across the state — an effort that could bolster a number of outdoor spaces in South Jersey.
The Garden State Preservation Trust has approved more than 100 park development and land acquisition projects to receive grants and loans, state officials said Wednesday.
The funding would be provided through New Jersey's Green Acres Program, which was established in 1961 to help protect community lands for public use. The funding must be approved by the state legislature.
The recipients would include the following five projects in South Jersey:
•Expanding parking and improving public access to the bodies of water at Willingboro Lakes Park.
•Adding lighting to two baseball and softball fields at the Pemberton Sports Complex and to two football fields at nearby Nesbit Park.
•Renovating Tippin's Pond Park in Pennsauken to include fishing docks, viewing platforms, trail improvements and volleyball courts.
•Replacing the grass football field at South Delsea Drive Park in Glassboro with a synthetic turf field that can be used for football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.
•Adding an inclusive playground and sensory garden, exercise circuit stations around the existing track and new restrooms at the Joseph E. Romano Sports Complex in Vineland.
Applicants for funding were encouraged to submit projects that address the impacts of climate change, provide equitable public access to community lands and maximize the overall benefits of open space use, especially within overburdened communities.
The allocations include more than $54 million for improvements to state parks, forests and wildlife management areas and more than $38 million to acquire and preserve open spaces.
The funding will help establish new parks and expand existing ones, improve access to waterways, create open space, develop athletic fields and playgrounds, build flood resilience and enhance stewardship by restoring lands for public use, state officials said.
"With these investments, we will take another significant step toward ensuring all New Jersey communities have access to recreational opportunities and enjoy the benefits of natural resource conservation," Gov. Phil Murphy said. "The proposed projects will provide equitable and meaningful access to urban parks, help address the impacts of climate change and advance our long-term resilience goals. Investing in our communities through these projects will improve the quality of life for families living across New Jersey now and in the future."
More than 20% of New Jersey's land is dedicated to parks and wildlife, which state officials say is more than any other state in the continental United States.