After the economic downturn in 2009, the state reduced funding to municipalities for programs such as recreation and parks, causing revenues in those municipalities to be strained.
In order to help protect the recreation areas that help make the municipalities of Burlington County desirable places to live in, the Freeholder Board created the Municipal Park Development Program in order to allocate $5 million per year in funds from the County Open Space, Recreation and Farmland & Historic Preservation Trust Fund to assist municipalities in developing and improving their parks and other outdoor recreation facilities.
Municipalities that apply for funds and have their projects approved can receive up to $250,000 to help develop new recreation facilities on land owned by the municipality, or make improvements to those facilities or areas which already exist.
Since 2010, the Board of Chosen Freeholders has awarded $25 million in grants to towns across Burlington County in order to create new parks, update sports fields, resurface tennis and basketball courts, provide more handicapped accessibility, improve field drainage and create trails. Over 130 local projects have been funded so far. Some notable projects that received grant funding include:
- The creation of a community garden in Mount Laurel
- Creating trails in Hainesport that connect to established County trails, in an effort to establish a county wide regional trail system along the Rancocas Creek
- Building the first youth baseball and softball fields in Woodland Township
- Building restroom facilities at Wood Park in Cinnaminson
- Creating two new parks and bike trails in Springfield Township
The successes listed above earned Burlington County’s Municipal Park Development Program an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties in 2014.