The Open Space Trust Fund
is a key reason Wyckoff attracted a $1.9 million Bergen County Open Space grant for the acquisition of Russell Farms, and the Township has applied for additional grants from Bergen County and the state Green Acres office which are pending.
The Open Space Trust Fund, financed by a small, separate tax, creates a fund that Wyckoff may use to purchase undeveloped land, preserve farmland, significantly upgrade our recreation facilities, and preserve Zabriskie House and Larkin House, two town-owned historic properties.
The revenue money collected each year is held in trust until it’s used. It’s “in the bank.” Each homeowner pays a small share of the Open Space Trust Fund…on average less than the cost of a family dinner in a restaurant. The annual amount of the tax would be approximately $36.48 for a property assessed at $810,060, the average residential property valuation.
The Open Space Trust Fund makes Wyckoff eligible for generous grants to improve our lives. Towns that have an Open Space Trust Fund receive more in grants from the state and county to purchase undeveloped land – before a developer does! Wyckoff’s current trust fund raised approximately $900,000 over its first five years. Because we have this source of funding, we were able to attract a Bergen County Open Space grant in the amount of $1.9 million to put toward the purchase of Russell Farms.
The Township is also negotiating with the owners of the Maple Lake site, a beautiful 28-acre parcel of woods and wetlands through which the Goffle Brook flows. Maple Lake would be an ideal nature sanctuary. Wyckoff has applied for funding from both Bergen County Open Space and the state Green Acres’ office to acquire Maple Lake. Having our own Open Space Trust Fund doubles the Green Acres’ funding from 25 to 50% of appraised value!
The Open Space Trust Fund does not deprive a town of revenue.
Some think that development is good for a town because it creates new property taxpayers. But more homes require more roads, traffic control, emergency services, clean-up services (trash pickup, leaf pickup, plowing), and especially, education expenses. THESE SERVICES COST THE TOWN MONEY. The additional taxes new homes generate fall short of the new expenses they create. As our Assemblyman Scott Rumana put it, “Any new housing is a negative ratable.”
The Open Space Trust Fund has already worked for Wyckoff!
We have about 90 acres of undeveloped land in Wyckoff. When a landowner wishes to sell in Wyckoff, the Open Space Fund creates an “alternative buyer”…the town. Thanks to our existing Open Space Trust Fund, we have already obtained a $1.9 million grant to purchase Russell Farms. The Township Committee passed an ordinance in December 2011 to purchase this land to be a future park. These five acres, with their historic significance, will be protected from development and have the potential to enhance our property values.