Jackson Officials Looking For Open Space Purchases

Property at 443 Leesville Road is being purchased to prevent development. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  JACKSON – Open space and preserving land from development is something residents talk about a lot and now the governing body wants to hear about locations that can be purchased.

  During a recent council meeting some residents took issue with a plan to purchase property that they felt was too high a cost for the amount of development that could possibly occur on that land.

  Councilman Nino Borrelli defended the governing body’s actions during the latest council meeting saying, “open space and development is a big concern to our residents. I want to assure our residents, that since we all joined the Township Council whether online on real estate websites, which I look at almost daily, and while driving through Jackson, we are always looking around for open and available land for sale to purchase and using municipal open space funds wisely.”

  He added that the governing body was looking “to preserve open space and to work with Ocean County to that end.” Borrelli noted that Council President Martin Flemming serves on County’s Natural Land Trust.

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  This trust is a fund of millions of dollars that the county uses to purchase land, forever preserving it. In order for this to happen, a town has to make a request and there must be a willing seller.

  “When we do find valuable land to buy, we are always sending those open space leads and opportunities to the administration and we request that they appraise the land in-house and inquire about them for acquisition,” he added.

  “Please keep in mind that we are competing with other interests for other properties that the township would like to buy. We can only go a small percentage above the township’s appraisal price to offer sellers properties that we are interested in buying,” Borrelli said.

  He noted, “sometimes properties we’d like to buy are already under contract before we can even get to appraising them.” He added that the Council was working to “protect Jackson’s beautiful environment and natural resources the best we can as we did with Rova Farms that will be a park. We are all about preserving open space all the time and bringing in clean commercial ratables.”

  Borrelli called for suggestions from residents for open space possibilities. “Send us any leads you may have to the township to buy land and we will move on it ASAP. We are in this together and have a vested interest in our town.”

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  Related to this subject, Councilman Steve Chisholm spoke about Rova Farms and the recently held Rova Farms Day program held at the site that showcased the historic and environmentally pristine area that the township purchased for preservation in 2019.

  “It was a great event. Some of you were out there, some of you heard about it. For those who don’t know what it was about, it gave people to come out (to Rova Farms) one last time and say goodbye to a building (closed nightclub tavern) that will be coming down soon to make way for a new park,” Chisholm added.

  He said, “it was an opportunity to see what it was all about and review its history. There were old pictures and a chance to see some of the proposed plans, nothing that is set in stone at this point and it was also a chance to gather more information from the public and their opinions.”

  Chisholm called it, “an awesome day and I’d like to thank all the support we had from the Advisory Committee, the mayor and council, the administrator, those who provided food and the entertainment and the entire team at DPW (Department of Public Works) for cleaning up, setting up and tearing down and making the place look presentable. Jackson TV students came out to tape everything.”

  The official said the Rova Farms Advisory Committee “is a hard-working group of people who come out every month and spends their evenings, sometimes out in the cold in the park. We’ve been out there on Saturdays and they have come out with some great ideas.”

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  “We love this park and love its history and we are looking forward to making something really great that our residents appreciate for years to come. We had over 300 people who did show up from not just Jackson but from New York, Pennsylvania and as far away as Virginia just to see it,” Chisholm, who serves as chair of the advisory committee said.

  He noted a social media outlet had described the event as “an election day gimmick” and refuted that stating, “this has been going on for three years and I’m not up for re-election this year. These are hard working people so if you want to take pot shots at the mayor or the council, we’re public officials, we can take it, we signed up for it but do not bust on the good residents of this town and criticize them as being chosen as political pawns for something. They were chosen prior to an election.”

  “We come up every month and ask people to donate their time and give back to charities and other community organizations, fire companies, first aid squads and we get volunteers who are actually doing the jobs they are asked to do and they get criticism,” Chisholm added. “…leave the residents alone.”