Evesham to benefit from record-high funding for county’s municipal parks

Madeleine Maccar The Sun: The walking paths at the Green Lane Farms property will be improved as part of a countywide project.

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.

In the town-by-town breakdown of this year’s grants, Evesham Township was awarded $200,000 for improvements to four tot lots and the walking path at Green Lane Farm.

“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,” said Freeholder Linda Hynes, the board’s liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and Parks. “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.

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.

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.

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,” Freeholder Hynes said. “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.”