Why to vote NO on Public Question to divert open space funds

This letter was published in the local newspapers and social media outlets this week. Chairs of the Clinton Township Open Space Committee and Environmental Commission — along with other residents — oppose a Public Question on the November 8 ballot that would let the Mayor and Council divert over $215,000 per year from the Open Space Trust Fund to other purposes.

We, the undersigned, strongly recommend a NO vote on the Clinton Township Municipal Public Question on the November 8 ballot. This measure is unnecessary, vague and ambiguous and would allow the town council to divert up to 50% of our Open Space Tax levy to other unspecified expenses.

The purpose of the Open Space Trust Fund is to preserve open space and to maintain our town’s character. The Trust Fund already permits up to 12.5% to be spent on maintenance of open space lands.

But the Public Question seeks to divert more than $200,000 per year for “maintenance” and “development” but does not define exactly what that means and how the money would be used.

We support the use and enjoyment of our open space lands. But maintenance above 12.5% should be paid from the Township’s general fund, as it has always been — not from the Open Space Trust Fund, whose purpose is preservation, not development. (Open Space Trust monies are often matched by State and County funds which would be lost if we allowed our Open Space funds to be diverted for other purposes.)

Improvements of our Open Space lands have always been done at minimal or no cost to taxpayers through volunteer efforts, donations, user fees and grants obtained by our Open Space Committtee, Environmental Commission and Recreation Committee.

For example:

  • Eagle Scouts and volunteers built benches, parking, trails and fencing at Bray’s Hill and Hackett’s Preserves, and rebuilt Bray’s historic spring house. A neighbor mows the field for about $50.
  • At Springside Farm, Open Space Committee volunteers partnered with a mountain biking club to build trails, parking and put up fencing at minimal cost.
  • On Windy Acres, trails were put in mostly with grant money obtained by our Environmental Commission.

The purpose of our 2-cent Open Space Tax is to bank enough funds so we can actually preserve appropriate lands when they are available.

We believe the proposed referendum would create a slippery slope of unnecessary spending without public input or oversight.

We note that this referendum was not endorsed by the Clinton Township Open Space Committee, Environmental Commission, or Recreation Committee. These groups have always brought our community together to do the work as volunteers so we can enjoy our open space.

For these reasons, we urge you to vote NO on the referendum that diverts up to 50% of Open Space Taxes to other uses.

Bill Honachefsky, Sr., former Chair, Open Space Committee
Cathy Sipe, Chair, Open Space Committee
Laurie Gneiding, Chair, Environmental Commission
Michael Brady, PE, former Chair, Planning Board
Bill Honachefsky, Jr., member, Environmental Commission
Nick Corcodilos, former Mayor
Svein Kopfelt
Peter & Carolyn Geiger
Gwen & Dave Ruppert
Deborah Canty, former member, Recreation Committee
Dwight Irving

This entry was posted in Election, Municipal, Sprawl, Taxes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.