This letter is submitted in regard to Middletown’s resolution to increase the annual collection rate to the Middletown Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Every one of us leads more than one life. We lead personal lives with our families and friends. We lead public lives with our neighbors and causes. And we lead professional lives with our colleagues and customers.
In all of my lives as a wife, mother and grandmother, as a councilwoman, mayor and freeholder director, a professional Realtor, and a trustee at the Monmouth Conservation Foundation, one of the things that has been a constant understanding is the importance of protecting our natural heritage and the enduring value of land.
Open land uses, whether farmland, forests or parks, are fundamental assets that add value to every community. They protect water and air quality, provide active and passive recreation opportunities, grow our food and provide homes for wildlife and plants that are the foundation of our complex ecosystem.
We have seen homes and commercial buildings built and torn down and built again. It is only the land that remains a constant. By authorizing local government to raise the money needed to purchase and preserve the land, you make an investment in the future of your community.
No one knows better about what should be preserved in a community than the people who live there. Middletown citizens are being given an opportunity to help determine how their town will look to future generations.
Wherever you go, each community is different, but one thing successful towns share is an understanding that open lands make very good neighbors and the neighborhoods around them benefit from them.
“Quality of life” is a term we hear virtually every day when people talk about what they value when choosing a place to live. Each of us may define the term differently, giving greater or lesser emphasis to one aspect or another.
But I have never heard anyone who talked about quality of life fail to recognize the value of open space in its various forms as one of the most fundamental components being every bit as much a part of local infrastructure as roads and bridges.
What else is there that the government can do that provides so many benefits to so many people? A quiet green place to go and listen to the birds sing. A sunny green ballfield to host friendly competition. A place where a local farm stand provides fresh food for your summer meals. A stream corridor buffer that controls storm water, prevents flooding and protects our drinking water. An asset that increases the value of your home.
All of these are part of the quality of your lives that open lands contribute and make their preservation a high priority and a good community investment.
Lillian G. Burry
Monmouth County freeholder
Trustee, Monmouth Conservation Foundation