New Jersey proposes $117 million for park, recreation improvements

May 8, 2024

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is recommending $117 million to invest in parks and open space across the state through the Green Acres program.

It is the highest funding package for Green Acres in 15 years and will help create parks, develop existing parks, acquire land, improve waterfront access, develop athletic fields and playgrounds, create open space and enhance land stewardship.

Established in 1961, Green Acres works to protect over a million and a half acres of open space and manage hundreds of outdoor recreation facilities. The program partners with public and private entities to fulfill their mission and is funded by corporate business tax.

“New Jersey is poised to make a historically significant investment in its parks and the people who depend on them for recreation, open space and a sense of community for all,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “The grants and loans proposed for these projects will provide opportunities for residents and visitors alike – across the Garden State – to engage in healthy activities, enjoy the outdoors and spend quality family time together.” 

The funding recommendations are designed to improve the quality of the state’s public parks and were submitted for review from the Garden State Preservation Trust (GSPT), which can then approve and submit for appropriation to the New Jersey Legislature.

Funding comes from matching federal, state, county and local funds, and private donors. The recommended allocations are as follows:

  • $40.1 million for 40 local parks and recreational facilities development projects.
  • $33.1 million to develop 49 completely inclusive playgrounds for children of different physical abilities.
  • $24.3 million for 29 municipal and county land acquisition projects.
  • $5.7 million for 11 acquisition projects by nonprofit organizations.
  • $3.6 million for four nonprofit recreational development projects.
  • $1.8 million for six local stewardship projects.
  • $309,000 for two nonprofit stewardship projects.

One inclusive playground project is Saddle River County Park in Bergen County, which will offer inclusive play equipment, safety surfacing, revamped landscaping, seating, and perimeter fencing for the playground. It has a proposed $1 million matching grant.

DEP has also approved $8.6 million in Urban Parks grants for 14 park development projects benefiting adversely stressed overburdened communities in urban aid municipalities. This program is funded by a state budget appropriation.

Projects funded by the Urban Parks grants include a new pickleball court that meets ADA requirements at Millcreek Park in Willingboro Township, Burlington County.

Photo courtesy of the state of New Jersey

Gracie Warhurst

Gracie Warhurst has joined Strategic Partnerships, Inc. as a writer and digital content creator for the new Government Market News portal. With a rich background in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, Warhurst has experience as editor-in-chief of a literary magazine, assistant web editor, and project manager for an AI journalism project. She also contributed as a reporter during the development of SPI's news portal. Warhurst graduated summa cum laude in December 2023 with a Bachelor's in Journalism and a certificate in creative writing, making her a valuable asset to the SPI team.

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