Vernon must update open space plan to get grants

Vernon. Councilwoman Jean Murphy suggested bringing some new blood aboard as councilmembers continue to discuss creating an ad-hoc committee.

| 10 Dec 2020 | 02:27

Vernon Township will need to update its open space plan to obtain grant money, business administrator Chuck Voelker told the township council last Thursday at a special workshop meeting.

The council continued its discussion from a previous meeting, when the council agreed that it wanted to create an ad-hoc open space committee that would meet when needed.

Council President Harry Shortway outlined what a such a committee could look like.

The outline proposed a seven-member committee that could consist of the mayor or a designee, a member of the council, a member of the Land Use Board, a member from the Town Environmental Commission, and a member of the Recreation Committee.

The outline also called for two citizens who hold no other elected, appointed, or employment position in the township.

Councilwoman Jean Murphy suggested bringing some new blood aboard. “As we’re adding people from one of these other boards or committees, we should give some thought to have somebody new,” she said. “Somebody that can bring some new ideas, even if that person is the mayor’s appointee. Maybe if it’s someone new – even if they’re for or against open space – they have new ideas.”

Shortway way said some municipalities have 12 or 14 members on their open space committees, but that would be too many.

The committee’s purpose was to prepare an open space and recreation plan and recommend properties for the township to acquire, whether outright or their development rights. It should submit a prioritized list to the council, which will review the list of properties and state how much money to make available.

Councilman Andrew Pitsker asked whether the committee should be provided a list of the township’s open space properties, but Shortway said creating such a list would be a task for the committee.

“The committee presents the township with an inventory,” Shortway said. “I don’t see how the council would do this. I think we have people who are advocates of open space, and I think they would relish a chance to do this.”