Chapter 3- Financing Public Access
General Obligation Bonds are a traditional source of revenue used by municipalities to develop parks, schools and other public facilities. Bonds are instruments by which the government borrows money from investors and pays the principal and interest over a number of years, similar to a loan. Through this method, the taxing power of the jurisdiction is pledged to pay interest and principal to retire the debt of the bond.
State Funding programs are available through the State’s Department of Environmental protection for acquisition and development of recreational lands. All state funded projects are subject to a public access requirement.
Green Acres oversees the Green Trust which makes low interest loans and grants available to the counties and municipalities for the acquisition or development of open space for public recreation. An interested community must complete an application, detailing their current open space and recreation inventory and illustrating their proposal for a new or revitalized park element.
Funding decisions are based on greatest open space need and imaginative recreation solutions. Parks with waterfront access receive a priority rating. Any municipality or county which enter into a contract with Green Acres is required to provide public access to the lands developed or acquired with these public funds. Over 20 million dollars was awarded in the 1987 fiscal year.
Land Trust Organizations exist primarily to preserve and conserve tracts of valuable open space for recreation. The scope of a particular trust may be broad or narrow. It may be organized at a state, regional, national or international level. One common key element of all land trusts is their non-profit status. Gifts of land or money to these entities may, therefore, be tax deductible.
Among the national and international land trusts, the Trust for Public Land and the Nature Conservancy have been actively pursuing projects in New Jersey. At the state level, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of valuable open space specifically with in New Jersey. Other trusts may be committed to preservation of a particular type of resource, such as historic structures and landscapes. Civic organizations and concerned citizens often form local trusts in order to preserve some aspect of their community.
Land trusts acquire property primarily through three methods-(1) direct gifts, (2) grant money, and (3) direct purchase with monies raised through the trust’s fundraising activities. Corporations or developers may choose to donate lands to a land trust in order to gain substantial tax benefits. In turn, some trust organizations act as an intermediary, selling or giving the land immediately to a public agency for maintenance, while others retain the land and maintain it for recreation or conservation purposes.