Gov. Murphy proposes $100 million investment in urban parks

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, left, speaks at a news conference at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, where he announced that the state will give free season-long admission to the park and other state parks to any New Jersey resident who has gotten at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by July 4. At right is Shawn LaTourette, the acting environmental protection commissioner. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

File Photo: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, left, speaks at a news conference at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

New Jersey officials announced Wednesday plans to invest more than $100 million in urban parks, playgrounds and open spaces.

The money would go through the Green Acres program, which was created 60 years ago to meet New Jersey’s recreation and conservation needs.

“Parks and recreation facilities are the heart and soul of healthy communities and provide essential opportunities to get outdoors, to reconnect to nature and for kids to play,” said Gov. Phil Murphy.

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The projects are designed to address the impacts of climate change while providing benefits for all communities, in cities, suburbs, and beyond.

“Parks and recreation facilities are the heart and soul of healthy communities and provide essential opportunities to get outdoors, to reconnect to nature, and for kids to play,” the governor added.

Among the projects approved for matching Green Acres funds is the second phase of improvements at Willingboro Lakes Park in Burlington County and the development of Broadway Park in Newark to include playgrounds and fields.

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During the course of the Murphy administration, more than $400 million has been invested in open space, according to Shawn LaTourette, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“[The announcement] represents a continuation of our administration’s commitment to open space, to natural resource restitution; commitments that are historic,” he said. “We’re not just investing in our environment…we’re investing in our communities and our people. “

The governor’s plan still needs approval from the Legislature.

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