Chief Francis Lee Memorial, Northern Community Park receive county funding

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Burlington County will distribute a record-high $5.2 million in municipal parks grants to 38 municipalities this year as part of the Board of Chosen Freeholders continuing efforts to assist local towns and property taxpayers.

Locally, Bordentown City was awarded $88,900 for Chief Francis Lee Memorial, and Bordentown Township was warded $150,000 for improvements to Northern Community Park.

“We’re incredibly proud to have a county parks system that is second to none in New Jersey, but we’re also doing our part to assist our towns make critical improvements to their local parks and recreational facilities,” Freeholder Linda Hynes, the board’s liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and Parks, said in a statement prepared by the county. “This partnership ensures that there are quality parks in all 40 of our county’s towns. No matter where you live you can enjoy all the beauty and outdoor recreation our county has to offer.”

The Municipal Park Development Grants program was first created in 2010 to assist towns with developing or improving their parks for outdoor active recreation. No grants were awarded in 2018 but the freeholders restored funding for the program last year, according to the statement.

All 40 municipalities in the county were eligible to apply for grants up to $250,000 to use to construct, repair or improve parks facilities or to acquire open space or farmland for a future park. Funding for the grants comes from the county’s voter-approved dedicated open space and farmland preservation tax, according to the statement.

No local match is required for towns to receive the grant funding, though the awards are restricted to hard costs such as construction, renovation and repair rather than for design or engineering expenses.

“By awarding these grants, we ensure that residents from all our towns benefit from the county’s open space and farmland tax and not just those who live in the farm belt or in areas with substantial open space,” Freeholder Hynes said. “It’s also a form of direct property tax relief since these are dollars that municipalities don’t have to borrow or raise from their property taxpayers.”

Thirty-eight towns are receiving grant funding under the program this year. Beverly and Woodland were the only two towns that did not submit applications for funding, according to the statement.

All towns that applied were awarded some funding this year.

“This year’s improvements include new playground equipment, walking and bike paths to fishing piers and field improvements,” Hynes said in the statement. “They may not be in county parks, but our residents will certainly benefit from them, and without this grant funding, they might not become a reality.”