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Open Space Information


Borough voters, at the November 2, 1999 General Election, approved a referendum establishing an Open Space Trust Fund which is funded through the collection of local property taxes in an amount of $0.01 per $100 of assessed value for a period of five years. The total amount that this tax currently yields is approximately $118,000 per year. These funds are designated for the purchase of open space so as to preserve such land as open space and to keep it in its natural state and, if no open space is available for purchase, then the moneys are to be used for such other recreation, conservation, farmland preservation or historic preservation purposes as may be permitted by law, to be determined following a public hearing.

Following the approval of the referendum, the Mayor and Council established the Open Space Advisory Committee. The Committee has the responsibility for making recommendations to the Mayor and Council for the use of the Open Space Trust Fund monies. The Committee has the responsibility of reviewing suggestions from all sources, including the public, the Planning Board, the Environmental Commission, and the Mayor and Council, regarding the use of the Open Space Trust Funds, and then making recommendations to the Mayor and Council for the expenditure of such funds consistent with the Borough referendum.

What Has Been Done

The first major task of the Committee was to prepare and prioritize a list of potential sites for open space preservation. The Committee initially based its review on a report entitled "Open Space Preservation Strategies" as prepared by Hakim Associates. The members of the Committee then personally visited and considered the merits of each of the 36 sites listed in the report. The Committee then evaluated the sites in order of desirability and submitted a report to the Mayor and Council.

The open space funds that the Borough has collected since 2000 have been instrumental in the Boroughs purchase of several critical parcels throughout the Borough, including Washington Woods (on Washington Avenue overlooking Lake Tappan), the Twin Oakes Park on Central Avenue, the Vandervoot Avenue property adjacent to the Police Station, and the wooded property adjacent to the Haring Drive footpath. Loan and grant programs through the State and County, such as the Green Acres Program and the County Open Space program, require for municipalities to contribute to the cost of acquiring open space and the open space levy has been the primary source of municipal funds for leveraging these State and County programs.

The Committee continues to assist the Mayor and Council in its efforts to purchase additional open space for Old Tappan.