New Jersey Historic Trust Funding: Critical Preservation Dollars At Risk
On June 7th, PNJ moderated the wrap-up session for this year’s wildly-successful NJ Historic Preservation Conference. The session featured representatives of the NJ Keep It Green Campaign and staff of the New Jersey Historic Trust, who discussed the current status of Garden State Preservation Trust funding, and what the public can do to help ensure this tenuous funding’s long-term future.
The Garden State Preservation Trust (GSPT) funds the New Jersey Historic Trust (NJHT), as well as the state’s Green Acres and farmland preservation programs, so without GSPT, we’d be without state-level historic preservation, open space, or farmland preservation grants.
Why should this matter to all preservation devotees throughout New Jersey? Just check out the database of funded projects on the NJHT website for an idea. During the conference session, we asked everyone in the room who was associated with a project that has received any type of Garden State Preservation Trust funding to stand up. Out of approximately 200 people, over three fourths of the room rose.
The NJHT is the most significant source of state-level funding for historic preservation in New Jersey, issuing 693 grants and helping to preserve 477 resources since 1990. This funding enables and incentivises non-profits and public entities to plan for and preserve historic places, creating jobs and leveraging imperative non-state matching investment along the way. NJHT funds have engendered success stories at such diverse sites as Paulsdale in Mount Laurel, the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, the Hoff-Vanatta Farmstead in Harmony, and the Essex County Courthouse in Newark. The loss of this funding would leave a gaping hole in the preservation equation in New Jersey- countless potential future success stories would have nowhere to turn for financial assistance.
Enter the NJ Keep It Green Campaign, a coalition of over 165 statewide, local, and regional groups, mostly conservation and environmental entities, working together to sustain and improve GSPT funding. NJ Keep It Green led successful campaigns to pass ballot measures in 2007 and 2009 that generated a combined $24 million for historic preservation funding in New Jersey- so they come with experience. But they also come with collective expertise, and are always looking to expand that expertise with added members. Preservation New Jersey is an active member of the coalition, along with the New Jersey History Advocates, AIA-New Jersey, the Monmouth County Historical Association the South Jersey Cultural Alliance, and more. The coalition is strengthening bonds between our state historic preservation and environmental communities, and keeping GSPT funding needs in the spotlight, particularly with our legislators and gubernatorial administration.
Of course, a coalition is only as strong as its members. NJ Keep It Green needs your help to fight for long-term, sustainable funding for the Garden State Preservation Trust. You can join the campaign, volunteer, and contribute funds to help spread to word. Keep up to date by liking the campaign on Facebook- or become a member and get all the latest information e-mailed right to you! And talk to your legislators about the importance of this funding and the need for their support for replenishing funding in 2013.
The NJHT recently undertook capital needs survey in an effort to document current historic preservation funding needs statewide. The study identified over $730 million in needs- so there is no doubt that there’s much work to be done. NJHT funding is imperative to the effort to address these needs, but it will be up to us to work to make sure this funding is a reality in the future.