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ACT NOW: Make a Call Today to Save State-Owned Historic Properties and A763/S2570

November 29, 2011

For some time now, we’ve been keeping you posted on A763/S2570,  which would establish a program for the leasing of state-owned historic sites in NJ to individuals, families, and businesses, and would also allow non-profits that currently can lease from the state to sublease to these groups. This bill would mirror similar programs in area states such as Maryland and Delaware, opening  up entirely new stewardship opportunities for properties that currently have no stewards. The bill was passed unanimously by the NJ Assembly on February 17 of this year, and was then  approved with unanimous support by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee in May.

The bill now has only two opportunities- Dec. 15 and Jan. 9- for a vote by the full Senate before the legislature reorganization in January. The reorganization means that the bill dies, and the entire process of approval will have to begin again at some future date. We can’t let this bill die!

MAKE A CALL TO YOUR SENATOR TODAY- urge them to support this bill and to press Senate President Stephen Sweeney to post this bill for a full Senate vote. All Senators need to be reminded of this bill, but it is doubly important that we reach out to Democratic Senators, as they are going to be most influential in encouraging Sen. Sweeney to post this for a vote.

A big plus: Senator Sweeney (District 3) himself, along with Senators  Dawn Marie Addiego (District 8), Anthony Bucco (District 25),  Shirley Turner (District 15), and Jim Whelan (District 2) all supported this bill in committee hearings this past May. They should be thanked for this support, reminded of how important this bill is to New Jersey’s historic resources, and encouraged to press Senator Sweeney to post this bill will no further amendments for a full Senate vote.

You can also reach out to Senate President Stephen Sweeney‘s  office directly: (856) 251-9801 or via email. Let the staff person know the you appreciate Sen. Sweeney’s previous support of this bill, and that this bill should be posted for a full Senate vote with no further amendments, so that all of the hard work already put into this bill does not go to waste. You can use the talking points below to emphasize how important this bill is to state-owned historic treasures.

Talking points :

  • This bill would authorize New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection to establish a program for the leasing of state-owned historic sites in NJ for state-owned historic resources on lands administered by the department
  • the state owns thousands of historic properties for which it does not have the funds or capacity to properly care. Currently, these resources can be leased by non-profits. This bill would expand that leasing program to allow leasing by private individuals and businesses, and would allow non-profit lessees to sublease these properties to private individuals and businesses.
  • In exchange for low or abated rent, the tenant would occupy the property and be responsible for restoration and maintenance of the property.
  • The Department of Environmental Protection, including the State Historic Preservation Office, would have to approve all restoration and repair work on the premises, ensuring that it meets preservation standards
  • I support this bill because leasing would open a new opportunity for restoration and use of thousands of historic properties, that currently sit vacant and deteriorating, to be restored and put back into use. This arrangement benefits the public by preserving historic resources, reducing the opportunity for vandalism and other detrimental behavior at or on these properties, improving the appearance and safety of state-administered lands.
  • Many other states, including Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, have successfully instituted similar programs.

Pass the message along to anyone you know that might be willing to make a call to save this bill. Every voice counts!

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