Cumberland County GOP Freeholder Candidates Say It’s Time For A County Parks System

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Earlier today, Arvene Kilby Hays and Frank Spatola, Jr.,  Republican candidates for Cumberland County freeholders said seven years to start developing a county park system is too long.

Given the fact the county paid $80,000 to study if a parks system is needed and adopted an Open Space and Recreation Master Plan seven years ago, Kilby Hays and Spatola may be on to something.

Their press release follows:

Kilby Hays And Spatola, Jr. Want Cumberland County Parks System

County parks system could help spur economic growth and help retain younger residents

 VINELAND – Republican candidates for Cumberland County Freeholder, Arvene Kilby Hays and Frank Spatola, Jr, said today seven years to start developing a county park system is too long.

In 2011 the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders paid $80,000 to a Pennsylvania company to “conduct an Open Space Planning Process and preparing an Open Space and Recreation Master Plan for the Cumberland County Department of Planning and Development.” Several reputable New Jersey companies submitted bids on the project for less. Later in 2011 the county adopted the Open Space & Recreation Master Plan.

“We find it difficult to believe our county government paid a company $80,000 to conduct a process and prepare a plan, adopt the plan and for seven years not move to implement the plan,” Arvene Kilby Hays said. “The study acknowledged over half of ‘area households use Cumberland County area parks, natural areas or open space areas.’ That fact alone should have been enough to see some movement over seven years.”

Frank Spatola, Jr. added, “To add insult to injury the study showed that a quarter of households using open space areas choose to go to a park in Salem County. It’s no wonder many of our younger residents don’t return to Cumberland County after graduating college, we can’t even keep families who live here in the county for leisure activities.

“We’re watching counties around us bring in new businesses, Amazon is bringing 1,000 new full-time jobs to Gloucester County and Camden is seeing a growth in new businesses. Sure, tax incentives play a role but study after study shows corporations like to move to areas that offer recreational opportunities.”

Kilby Hays explained, “We love Cumberland County and want to keep our young people here. The creation of a county parks system would help and could generate corporate investment in Cumberland County. We’ve said that streamlining government departments could save $2.25 million in overtime, so the money is there to create a county parks system.”

“The bottom line here is that there is no reason Cumberland County is the only county in the state not to have a county parks system. A little hard work and number crunching could provide a better quality of life for county residents, spur some economic growth and keep our younger population in the county at no additional cost to taxpayers,” Spatola, Jr. said.