TRENTON, NJ (WCBS 880 / AP) – There is a proposal in New Jersey to allow towns to be able to tap into state open space funds to help buy out flood-prone properties, similar to what FEMA does.

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“We think it’s a good use of open space funds. One, because when you buy out these damaged properties and you get people out of harm’s way, so that you don’t have to rebuild them,” said environmentalist Jeff Tittel with the New Jersey Sierra Club.

SEE: Photos – Irene’s Aftermath from Chopper 880

He says number two is that it is a way to set up waterfront parks.

“So instead of people’s houses flooding, the parks will flood. You remove the structures and the fill and you create new flood storage areas which actually help protect other properties. But you also can create riverfront parks.”

Tittel says there is only about $12 million in the state’s Blue Acres program for buyouts, which he says only helps about a half dozen towns such as Wayne.

“We think by expanding the Blue Acres program at the local level and allowing towns to start buying out some of these properties is a good thing,” he said, adding that the state needs to set up a permanent source of open space funding.

Experts concurred after Hurricane Irene that the way to make things better isn’t by controlling the water: It’s getting people out of homes that flood repeatedly.

The Senate Budget Committee approved the measure unanimously in a 10 to 0 vote.

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(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  1. Right Thing to Do says:

    I almost fell out of my chair reading this article. Finally, an initiative that makes sense. I can hardly believe it.

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