The Open Spaces Committee advises the governing Township Committee on Open Spaces elements of the master plan. This covers the use and planning of natural areas, recreational fields, trails, protection of steep slopes, etc. Chatham Township uniquely focuses on preserving open spaces. Cost per resident is presently about $35 per year. This amount is leveraged to bring in additional funding from other sources.
Open Spaces was started by Abigail Fair and approved in a referendum passed by 72 percent of Township electorate. About 215 acres have been purchased for this purpose so far. A large tract purchased in 2005 was the Kirby property. Most of the cost of this acquisition was paid other organizations, especially by the Morris County Open Space organization. Also, county and state Green Acres funding plus Great Swamp Watershed funding were provided. The last major property, purchased in 2011, was the Averett property. Everyone was grateful to Sam Averett for making this possible just before he passed on.
One of the benefits of Open Spaces is that nearby private property value is enhanced by the beauty experienced every day by residents and visitors to the Township. New projects include development of a new parking lot for access to Lawanaka brook reservation.
After an active Q&A period, the audience enthusiastically applauded the work of the Open Spaces Advisory Committee and the presentation of this important contribution to our community. To learn more, please visit the website: http://www.chathamtownship-nj.gov/Open_space/OS_main.html