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Greystone Can Be Saved 'Without Mass Spending Measures,' Senators Say

Sens. Joe Pennacchio and Anthony Bucco introduced legislation that would limit the use of the property and turn the land into open space.

The historic Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital has been a controversial topic recently with its $50 million demolition price tag that was determined after Gov. Chris Christie announced plans in late 2011 to remediate and convert Greystone Park in Parsippany—about 165 acres.

There may be way to salvage the property though as Senators Joe Pennacchio and Anthony Bucco introduced legislation on Thursday to limit the sale of remaining parts of the Greystone property that is owned by the state. The legislation also calls for the land to be maintained as open space, “showing that there are creative ways to preserve land in New Jersey that don’t involve mass spending measures,” according to a release.

“We have already made great progress turning the Greystone property into open space for future and current generations to enjoy,” said Pennacchio, whose offices are in Pine Brook. “This bill will assure that process continues and the remaining land is protected as well.”

The Senators’ bill states that remaining Greystone property owned by the state and declared as surplus can only be sold to Morris County. Morris County is limited to using the property for the following purposes: recreation, conservation, historic preservation, farmland preservation and associated public services.

“This legislation we’re introducing today shows that in tough economic times there can be creative land preservation solutions at local levels that don’t always involve initiating mass spending measures,” said Republican Budget Officer Bucco. “Leaders of New Jersey recognize that open space is a big issue in our most-densely populated state, and our Department of Environmental Protection has dedicated tens of millions of dollars to preserve land. Property taxpayers also fund significant open space programs at county and local levels.”

“By officially restricting the sale and use of the rest of the state-owned Greystone property and allowing its conveyance only to Morris County we can assure that future administrations won’t try to develop the land,” Pennacchio said. “Coupled with the current park, this added land will create an oasis for future generations to enjoy.”

In 1998, Senator Bucco introduced legislation (then S1575) to allow counties, municipalities and school districts to acquire surplus state property at no cost when the property is to be used for recreation, conservation, open space preservation, urban renewal or public education.

In 2001, Senators Pennacchio and Bucco sponsored legislation that authorized the state to sell portions of the psychiatric hospital grounds in Morris County to the county for use as open space.

In 2002, 300 acres from the Greystone property were turned over to Morris County and converted into the Central Park of Morris County.

In 2011, Governor Christie announced more than 100 acres of the state’s remaining vacated property at Greystone was to be converted into useable open space parkland.

“If you ask people whether they’d want $200 million state tax dollars used on Open Space or to have less than that used on a 10-percent tax cut for all New Jerseyans, all indicators show that they would resoundingly want the tax cut,” added Bucco, referring more specifically to open space measures being pushed by Democrats in the Senate and Assembly. 

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