At Tuesday's Township Committee meeting the board unanimously approved an ordinance placing the Open Space Tax question on the November 8th ballot.
After some earlier dissension at the last township committee between the Friends of Wyckoff and the Parks and Recreation Foundation over the wording of the ordinance and how the collected moneies would be used, both groups now appear to be on the same page with the same objective in mind...getting the Open SPace tax extended.
"We passed the ordinance necessary to put the public question on the ballot on November 8," said committeeman Brian Scanlan. " I know that in the previous week representatives from the Friends of Wyckoff and members from the Parks and Recreation Foundation met and agreed that they would work together to get the ordinance passed in November."
The current Open Space Tax is set to expire on December 31. Since 2006 Wyckoff has raised $1,028,000, according to Township Administrator Robert Shannon, by charging residents a half cent per $1,000 of assessed property value which amounts to roughly $39 a year. The township expects to use those funds in their efforts to acquire open space properties such as Russell Farms and Maple Lake.
Earlier this month members of the Township Committee traveled to Hackensack in their efforts to acquire the privately owned, 26.5-acre Maple Lake property.
The only change made in the wording from the from previous ordinance was a section was added allowing funds to be used to help maintain and preserve historic properties in the township such as the Zabriskie House.
Scanlan said he was happy all parties appeared to be on the same page as the issue heads toward a November vote. "The groups agreed that the preservation of open space was the foremost priority of the fund so that was important to hear last night," he said.
Speaking at the meeting Linda Vreeland of the Friends of Wyckoff said both groups had reached a consensus.
"Both groups agree that the OSTF should primarily be used for open space – such as Russell Farms and Maple Lake. We also agreed to meet again toward the end of the summer to strategize about ways to clarify what we both support to Wyckoff residents and that all our efforts – be it in areas of recreation (which can mean anything from an outdoor yoga class to a middle school soccer field, or passive open space, for birdwatching and walking) are positive ones for Wyckoff, both present and future generations and that the majority of Wyckoff residents vote for and pass the OSTF for another 5 years."
Committeeman Christopher DePhillips said he hopes the question will now pass smoothly in November. “I’m pleased they were able to resolve any differences they had. The Friends of Wyckoff backed off of their request for a 50 percent guarantee and agreed there was no reason to earmark a specific percentage of funds," he said. "I think language is flexible enough to allocate most or all of the funds toward open space if that’s the choice of the township committee.”
Scanlan added, "I think everyone is on the same page and really looking forward to November 8th. We've received a $1.9 million grant to acquire Russell Farms and the reason we had that grant was because we had our own Open Space Trust Fund in place that will have collected $1.1 million by the end of the year. It's been a real rainmaker for Wyckoff."