LAMBERTVILLE: Officials seek state money for McCann land buy

Council is asking state for a grant to fund acquisition of second-to-last parcel of open space in Lambertville

By Linda Seida, Staff Writer
   LAMBERTVILLE — The City Council has agreed to ask the state for a large grant to fund the acquisition of the second-to-last parcel of open space in Lambertville.
   Before last week, it was uncertain if there even would be any money in the state coffers for the Green Acres program and other preservation and protection programs. The question was left in the hands of voters, who ultimately did approve the $400 million ballot question.
   Last month, before the question was put to voters, Lambertville positioned itself to be ahead of the game. The council agreed to seek $870,000 for an open space purchase if funding were to become available.
   ”We’re just looking for a less expensive way to purchase the property,” Mayor David Del Vecchio said.
   If a matching grant is required, the city has the funds, according to the mayor. The city collects about $300,000 a year from a 2-cent open space tax voters approved in 2004 for the purchase of the Buchanan property at $1.4 million.
   Lambertville voters agreed in 2008 to expand the purpose of the tax. The tax remains at 2 cents per $100 of assessed property value, but the voters approved the city’s use of the tax for maintenance of parks and open space as well as the purchase of the 1.082 acres of undeveloped land that is referred to as the McCann property.
   The property sits on Jefferson Road on Music Mountain. It is adjacent to the 16.5-acre Buchanan property behind Ely Field that has been preserved as open space.
   Mayor Del Vecchio pointed out the city received major funding for the purchase of the Buchanan property.
   With the council’s approval of a resolution last month asking the state for $870,000 for the McCann property, city officials hope for funding assistance similar to that given by the state for the Buchanan property.
   Of the $1.4 million purchase price for the Buchanan property, $575,000 came from grants, and $250,000 came from loans with 2-percent interest rates.