From The Courier News.
This is absolutely awesome news. When I lived in that area, all the talk was of turning it into "Skillman Village." It was a fait accompli. That was, of course, before The Great Recession.
Tuesday morning, Somerset County and township officials closed on a
deal that ensures the former site of the North Princeton Developmental
Center returns to nature.
$15.9 million sale of the 250-acre Skillman Village by the township to
the county ends years of negotiations and one-time visions of
thousand-home neighborhoods, a performing-arts center and even an ice
The county’s Improvement Authority will pay the township using funds from the county Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.
county, which plans to develop the land into Skillman Park, also
appropriated $250,000 from the open-space fund to pay an arborist to
determine how best to manage and preserve the park’s trees.
After abandoning the property in 1998, the state in 2005 sold it to Montgomery for $5.95 million.
township spent more than $16 million razing the 100 buildings —
including a morgue, a power plant, houses, a hospital and a firehouse —
that for decades had made the facility its own self-contained village.
New Jersey Village for Epileptics was founded in 1898. In 1953, it
became the New Jersey Neuro-Psychiatric Institute, and later, the North
Princeton Developmental Center.
The facilities at one time housed as many as 1,500 patients and employees, officials said.
Soon, however, the park will be ready for cyclists, joggers and hikers.
“Give us a year, and this will be a dream come true,” Freeholder Patricia L. Walsh said.
Park becomes part of more than 6,000 acres of open space in Montgomery,
nearly a third of the land area in the township of 22,000 people.
park and the other parcels of preserved land surrounding it near
Skillman and Burnt Hill roads total about 1,100 acres, officials said.
resident Michael Mathews, who attended the signing of the deed transfer
at the park, called the property “the Central Park of the township of
have enough cul-de-sac houses. We have enough golf courses. We have
enough shopping malls,” he said. “Seventy-five years from now the kids
are going to want to have open space. It’s vital to the health of a
Mark Caliguire said township and state officials started discussions in
1993, as the state scaled back use of such institutions as the
developmental center in favor of modern facilities.
Caliguire said the land “was not only an eyesore but dangerous.”
“It got hard to keep the plywood on the windows, because it was listed in Weird N.J. So you had kids coming in and breaking into the buildings,” he said.
Now, “the dangerous and dilapidated buildings are gone, and we will see this place preserved as open space forever.”