Edison will look for ‘alternate ways’ after open space referendum defeated

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EDISON — Despite a slight defeat of the open space referendum, Mayor Thomas Lankey said in the weeks and months ahead, his administration and the Township Council will “work hard to find alternate ways” to accomplish very important environmental goals.

“I am grateful to the many Edison residents who recognized the value of preserving our open space, improving our existing parks, and who supported our one-cent Open Space referendum,” he said.

In an effort to seek matching state and county grants to purchase property for new neighborhood parks, expand existing parks and to enhance local recreational areas, township officials were seeking to reinstate the municipal Open Space Trust Fund through a referendum, effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Voters came to the polls on Nov. 6 and defeated the referendum by 363 votes with 9,715 “no” votes and 9,352 “yes” votes.

The Open Space Trust Fund would have enabled the township to dedicate one cent per $100 of assessed value toward open space improvements. For the average assessed Edison home of $178,400, the open space tax would cost $17.84 per year.

The township originally established a one cent Open Space Trust Fund in 1999, which ended on Dec. 31, 2013.

During the 15-year period, Edison used the money from the trust fund along with county and state grants — New Jersey Green Acres Program — to acquire and preserve nearly 900 acres. The township’s current open space inventory includes 1,758 acres, or nearly nine percent of the town’s total land area, according to a June report from the municipal Open Space Advisory Committee.