KINGWOOD TWP. — Township officials signed the deed to about 240 acres on the Horseshoe Bend Road property on May 26, after more than five years of negotiations and waiting for funding.
The financial transaction of $5.8 million is expected to take place later in June, Mayor Phillip Lubitz said. About $4.7 million will come from the state Green Acres program, $1.1 million from township open space funds, $444,000 from the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and $150,000 from a Natural Resources of New Jersey grant.
About 73 acres were already purchased last year by the township, the conservation foundation and Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance, bringing the total purchase price to about $6.3 million.
Formerly owned by Deer Run Equestrian Village LLC, the property was subdivided into about 60 residential lots in 2006, and could have become a development if not preserved as open space.
Lubitz called the property “the jewel of all the Hunterdon County parks.”
Use of the property is free to Kingwood Township residents, hikers and “nature lovers” for horseback riding, mountain biking, bird watching and other “passive” recreational activities, he said.
An 11,000-square-foot indoor equestrian center already stands on the property, along with barns and other structures.
Township officials are negotiating with equestrian, biking and hiking associations, and hope to create an agreement for those associations to use the property in exchange for helping to maintain it, according to Committeeman Jim Burke.