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PNJ President on open space, historic preservation links

July 2, 2008

John D. S. Hatch, AIA; President of the Board of Preservation NJ, spoke at a Statehouse news conference yesterday about the need for the legislature and Governor to act NOW to renew and strengthen the Garden State Preservation Trust (GSPT). Now out of money for the first time in decades, the GSPT funds open space and farmland preservation programs as well as the NJ Historic Trust’s rehabilitation grants.

As we have seen for more than twenty years, there is a profound connection between protecting the environment, preserving open space and revitalizing our historic cities and town centers. In a densely populated state like NJ, these crucial goals are inextricably intertwined: sustainable communities and preserved open space go hand in hand. With extraordinary foresight and vision, the Garden State Preservation Trust, through Green Acres, Farmland Preservation and the New Jersey Historic Trust, saw this vital interconnection and funded both open space and historic preservation.

Now this extraordinarily effective and crucial program is in danger. Funding for the Garden State Preservation Trust has run out and this puts our future in danger:

• Without clear, stable funding for GSPT, thousands of acres of crucial open space are now at risk from unsustainable, sprawl development.

• Hundreds of historic places important to people across the state are more at risk than ever, now that NJ Historic Trust funds are running out,

• The environmental and economic costs to communities when this open space is lost and when these historic landmarks are lost – torn down and carted to the landfill – are enormous

Remember this: The greenest, most sustainable building is the one already built. The NJ Historic Trust not only saves some of our most important buildings, it spurs redevelopment that saves and revitalizes neighborhoods and downtowns. Since 2000, the New Jersey Historic Trust’s grant program, funded through the GSPT, has made $56 million in direct grants for the rehabilitation of historic properties. The NJ Historic Trust has leveraged far more than $112 million in private reinvestment, job creation and community revitalization

Now, during this economic downturn, is the time to invest in community revitalization by renewing and strengthening GSPT to reduce sprawl and strengthen our cities and town centers while protecting our cultural heritage and our open spaces.

Community and economic revitalization, historic preservation, open space preservation and protection of the environment: Not only do all of these fit perfectly together, they are crucial for the future of a livable and vibrant New Jersey.

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