Plans to provide nearly $500,000 in state funds that would help a northern New Jersey town buy eight flood-prone homes have cleared another hurdle.
The state Department of Environmental Protection tells The Record that the funding for Saddle Brook is part of more than $123 million in Green Acres open-space acquisition and recreational development projects that were recently approved by the Garden State Preservation Trust.
But before the town can get the $487,500 it’s due to receive, the state Legislature must include the funding in an appropriations bill and Gov. Chris Christie would have to sign the measure.
If the money is eventually allocated, it would be provided to Saddle Brook as a matching grant. That means the town also would have to come up with $487,500.
Saddle Brook would use the money to help buy the properties where the homes now stand and demolish the residences, leaving the sites as open space that would likely reduce the impact of flooding. But officials say it will cost about $3.5 million overall to make the purchases.
Saddle Brook Mayor Karen Chamberlain, told the newspaper that she was grateful for the grant, but said the state has not done enough to help area communities address the flooding issues.
“I think the state should put in more money,” Chamberlain said. “And if they don’t have it, they should put pressure on the federal government.”
DEP spokesman Bob Considine said the Saddle Brook project got as much funding as it could under the program.
“Applying for grants for Green Acres is a competitive process based on the amount of needs throughout the state, and we try to spread it around as equitably as possible,” Considine told the newspaper.