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On Election Day in New Jersey, there were two questions of utmost importance, in terms of money being spent on the state and local level regarding environmental concerns:


State Public Question No. 2 was to approve amending dedicated funds (currently 4%, collected from the Corporation Business Tax) for open space, farmland, historic preservation, water programs, underground storage tanks, and hazardous site cleanups. The amendment would raise the amount from 4% to 6%, beginning July 1, 2019. It would also change some of the programs currently being funded, beginning July 1, 2015. The new dedication would be used mostly to preserve and steward open space, farmland, historic sites, and flood-prone areas as well as improve water quality, remove and clean up underground tanks, and clean up polluted sites.


In the interpretive statement, open space is referred to as Green Acres and flood-prone areas as Blue Acres, land which is bought to protect water supplies and flood-prone areas, create and maintain parks, fish and wildlife areas, and the improvements to parks. (What some people don't understand is that this can mean golf courses, sports fields, paved parking lots instead of semi-permeable gravel, installing bleachers, adding water fountains, etc.) In any event, this amendment passed.


The local question was the hotly discussed, written about, petitions were passed by both sides, and this was the second time the voters in my small town were asked the exact same thing, which was rejected the last time we all voted on it. This is the official question: Shall Bernardsville Borough authorize a one-time expenditure of an amount not to exceed $1,000,000 from the Borough Open Space Trust Fund for the construction of an artifical turf field at the Upper Polo Grounds which is already owned by the Borough?


The interpretive statement explains that artificial turf fields have an estimated 10 year "useful life", but does not elaborate on the cost of upkeep, nor the health problems associated with artificial turf.


On a personal note, since my husband dedicated much of 25 year career at an Environmental Education Center, as well as serving on several environmental committees and boards, I learned from him how slippery the slope can get when dealing with individuals in an area where the wealthy often are the loudest and want whatever it is the neighboring towns and teams have. In my mind, both of our sons played on those fields, and came home with mud, dirt and grass stains. No big deal. You can probably guess how I voted on both issues.


What I did not foresee was having to explain in short sentences to my husband what the questions meant. What I also did not foresee was his reaction to a change in our usual polling place, and the fear that he would have to go into the curtained booth alone.


As he signed in, I quickly explained that if possible, could I accompany him, due to his Alzheimer's. The woman read some sheet of paper and the three conditions listed were: blind, illiterate, physically incapacitated. I said that none of those applied. She graciously gave me the okay and he held onto me, like a frightened child. Our eldest son was in line behind us, which I think helped as well. So, we voted together, literally. His comment upon leaving, "Well, we did our good deed for the day!" And I'm pleased to say enough people voted against the artificial turf field. I'm guessing most of them were from The Greatest and The Worst Generation, as well as informed voters from other generations.

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