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Referendum Survey

An online survey has been published to get your input on the format of a proposed referendum question. The background information below may be helpful. If you would like to express your opinion on the wording of a future referendum question, please complete the online Referendum Survey at https://forms.gle/8XoKvHqqzCnD7597A.

Background on the Proposed Referendum Question


Formation of Current Open Space Trust Fund

In November 1998, Bernardsville voters approved a $.02 open space tax for the purposes of acquiring lands for recreation and conservation purposes. The average amount collected each year is approximately $480,000. The current amount in the fund is approximately $7,000,000. In November 2008, the voters amended the 1998 proposition to allow up to 20% of the funds collected to be used for development and improvement of Borough owned open space properties. These funds have been used for such projects as drainage work at Kiwanis and Claremont fields, basketball courts on Seney Drive, pool improvements, etc.


Open Space Advisory Committee

The Borough’s Open Space Advisory Committee was formed to develop a comprehensive open space plan, identify specific sites and recommend acquisition of open space, assist in the implementation of open space programs established by the Mayor and Council, comment to the Planning Board and Board of Adjustment on the potential for open space preservation opportunities and interact with other boards, commissions, committees and citizen groups to obtain broad public input for the development of the open space program. The complete list of duties can be found on the Borough website at http://www.bernardsvilleboro.org/web_content/pdf/boards/Bernardsville-Open-Space-Advisory-Committee.pdf.

The Open Space and Recreation Plan can be found on the Borough website at http://www.bernardsvilleboro.org/web_content/pdf/misc/Bernardsville-Final-OSRP-11-17-2016.pdf.


Recreation and Open Space Inventory (ROSI)

Borough properties currently listed on the ROSI include:

  • Chestnut Avenue
  • Claremont Field
  • Kiwanis/Rotary Field and playground
  • Laurelwood Trail (Borough Springs)
  • Lindabury/Nervine Park
  • Meeker Road
  • Moraine Crest Park
  • Old Army Trail
  • Peters Tract – 251 Claremont (newly purchased)
  • Polo Grounds – Veterans Field/Evankow Field/Swimming Pool/Basketball Courts
  • Rose Bowl

The Need for a Referendum Question

When Veterans Field was installed, it was the first phase of what was to be a two-phase improvement project. The teams that use the field were concerned as to when phase two would be completed. Mayor Sooy asked the teams to form a committee to look into resolving any concerns with the field and what was still needed. Mayor Canose then formalized the already formed committee into a Mayor’s ad-hoc committee and asked that in addition to Veterans Field, they look at possible improvements at all the Borough properties. On May 8, the committee made a preliminary report to the Council recommending that the Council consider a referendum question to amend the Open Space Ordinance so that a greater percentage of the tax money collected could be used for improvements on the properties. Any amendment to the Ordinance would require a question on the November 2019 ballot to be decided by the Bernardsville voters.

The Field Study Committee’s Interim Report can be found on the Borough website at http://www.bernardsvilleboro.org/web_content/pdf/Field-Study-Comm-Interim-Report-April2019.pdf.

The committee’s recommendation was to amend the current Open Space Ordinance to have 20% dedicated each year to acquisition and the remaining 80% to be used for EITHER acquisition or improvements.

The Council solicited input from the Open Space Committee, the Environmental Commission and the Recreation Committee. The Open Space Advisory Committee did not support the amendment, but suggested that if a change was made, a sunset date be included. The Environmental Commission does not support the inclusion of the proposed tax ballot question on the November 2019 ballot. The Recreation Committee does support the proposal.

After discussion and input from members of the public, additional funding scenarios were created and the Council has scheduled a separate meeting on Wednesday, June 5, for further discussion and public input on the 6 options. The meeting will be live streamed and a survey will be available on the website for residents to share their opinions on the proposals.

If you would like to express your opinion on the wording of a future referendum question, please complete the online Referendum Survey at https://forms.gle/8XoKvHqqzCnD7597A.