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Open Space Purchase May Get $500,000 From Township

Money would help fund $5.2-million purchase of 348 acres on Sourland Mountain.

The township may be contributing $500,000 toward the purchase of nearly 350 acres of open space in the western part of the township.

The Township Committee approved Tuesday an ordinance on first reading to use $500,000 from Hillsborough’s Open Space Trust Fund to help Somerset County in the purchase of the land on Wertsville and Montgomery roads on Sourland Mountain.

Most of the acreage is to the west of Montgomery Road and stretches behind residential lots from Wertsville Road to nearly the top of the mountain by David’s Lane.

The Somerset County Freeholders on Sept. 25 approved paying $5,229,000, about $15,000 an acre, to acquire the 348.60 parcel which is made up by 11 lots.

The property is owned by Princeton developer R. Bryce Thompson IV, Thompson Realty and Lanwin Development Corp., which Thompson owns.

Somerset County entered into an agreement with the N.J. Conservation Foundation for the acquisition.

Mayor Carl Suraci said at Tuesday’s Township Committee meeting that Hillsborough’s contribution shows that land preservation is a “top priority” in the municipality.

Deputy Mayor Gloria MacCauley said the acquisition will add to the inventory of preserved open space in the Sourland Mountain region of the township.

The land is across Montgomery Road from the township’s Otto’s Farm Park at the intersection of Wertsville and Montgomery roads.

At the Sept. 25 Township Committee meeting, Suraci suggested that township officials investigate the possibility of using Open Space Trust Fund monies to develop and improve recreational facilities, including constructing trails on the  preserved open space.

“We want to be able to make improvements so that residents can enjoy that open space,” he said.

A final vote on the $500,000 contribution is scheduled for Nov. 27.  

Patricia P Smith October 13, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I am glad to see that the Township Committee is adding to the Sourland Mountain Preserve. The Sourlands are beautiful and worthy of preserving for future generations. A wonderful place to hike and enjoy the land. Most people today spend far too little time looking at the peace and beauty around us.

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