Nassau County Voters Approve $50M Bond

November 3, 2004
New York

Mineola, NY, 11/3/04: In addition to casting their votes for the presidential candidate of their choice, voters in Nassau County approved a $50 million bond to create the Open Space Clean Water Environmental Program. For the first time Nassau County will have a well-funded program for preserving open space and protecting the environment. It is the only New York county besides Suffolk County to put such a measure before voters. Election results available at www.landvote.org

"For the first time, the people of Nassau County now have the power and the pocketbook to set a vision for the county's landscape," said Erik Kulleseid, director of the New York State Program of the Trust for Public Land (TPL). TPL is a nonprofit land conservation organization that worked with a coalition of local and regional environmental groups to support the measure.

The funds can only be used to protect drinking water, control storm water, preserve open space and expanding and rehabilitating parks.

"This is a quality of life issue that will protect drinking water, preserve open space and preserve our remaining farmland, protect bays and harbors and add new parks and recreational facilities," said County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi.

The county will issue $50 million dollars in bonds, to be accounted for separately from the general budget, which can be expended only to protect open space, Nassau's few remaining farms and horse farms, wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas; to maintain and improve the quality of Nassau's water resources; to control stormwater runoff and to create community parks and refurbish existing parks.

The Long Island Regional Planning Board has called for preservation of 45,000 of Long Island's remaining 90,000 acres of unprotected open space. They predict that any property not preserved will be developed in the next seven to ten years.

"Nassau County does not have the luxury of time. Within five years the county will be fully built out, except for publicly protected land," said Lisa Ott, Executive Director of the North Shore Land Alliance.

Nationwide, voters decided 142 measures for farmland, parks, and open space. Results to date show that approximately 73 percent passed, raising $3.1 billion for the environment.

In Suffolk County, the only other New York County where voters have approved such a measure, voters approved the Save Open Space (SOS), Farmland Preservation, and Hamlet Parks Fund. For a cost of approximately $11 per household annually, $75 million will be made available to protect open space, preserve farmland, and provide parks and active recreation facilities for local communities. This is a continuation of a long history of Suffolk County land conservation efforts. In 1999, Suffolk voters Proposition No. 3, a $62 million bond for farmland, parks, recreation, and a natural history center.

Also on Long Island, a $100 million Clean Water Open Space Bond Act was passed by Brookhaven voters. Voters in Oyster Bay approved a $30 million Open Space Bond Act for local environmental and water protection projects, a measure which was supported by the Trust for Public Land.

TPL, established in 1972, is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for human enjoyment and well-being. TPL helps conserve land for recreation and to improve the health and quality of life of American communities. TPL also works in local communities across the nation to identify new public funding methods to finance the protection of open space. In the past seven years, TPL's Conservation Finance Program has helped more than 276 communities win approval by local voters to create over $20 billion in conservation-related funds. Results of conservation finance initiatives nationwide are available at www.landvote.org. For more information on the Trust for Public Land, visit www.tpl.org.