A 15.5-acre property along the Delaware River bluffs in Hunterdon County that could have become four building lots has instead been preserved as permanent open space, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation announced Monday.
Using a combination of grants and donations, the Foundation and the New Jersey Water Supply Authority purchased the property near the intersection of Route 29 and Worman Road in Stockton for $554,000.
The property is located behind the historic John Prall house, a circa 1795 stone building on Route 29 that is owned by the Foundation and used as a regional office.
The acquisition expands the Wickecheoke Creek Preserve, a green belt of preserved open space and farmland along the stream for which it is named, and will allow connections to be made between existing public hiking trails.
“We’re thrilled to be able to add this beautiful property to the Wickecheoke Creek Preserve,” Michele S. Byers, Foundation director, said. “It had preliminary approval for four building lots, so it could have very easily been developed. We’re very grateful to our partners and donors for making this acquisition possible.”
Funding for the property’s purchase and stewardship came from the Water Supply Authority ($262,250), the state Green Acres program ($131,125), the Hunterdon County Open Space Trust Fund ($100,860), and substantial private donations from nearby residents Dr. David and Karen L. Holmes and Suzanne Perrault and David Rago.
“The authority is pleased to help preserve this parcel using funds provided by its water customers and financing through the NJ Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program,” Henry Patterson, the agency’s director, said. “Protection of this property will contribute to the health of the D&R Canal, a drinking water source for more than one million central New Jersey residents.”
"The New Jersey Conservation Foundation is to be congratulated for its foresight and longstanding efforts in creating the Wickecheoke Creek Preserve. This particular parcel is very unique, with a fabulous overlook of the old quarry pond," Pam Thier, Green Acres program development specialist, said.
“This property is a major save in a small community like Stockton,” Hunterdon Freeholder Ron Sworen said. “It is a great use of our Open Space Trust Funds.
The Foundation is a private, member-supported nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey. Since 1960, it has protected more than 120,000 acres of open space.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM