By Matthew Sockol
MILLSTONE – Municipal officials have paid $600,000 toward the purchase of a 153-acre property on Trenton-Lakewood Road (Route 526) that is now part of the Prospertown Lake Wildlife Management Area.
The property was purchased on Jan. 8, according to a report from the Millstone Open Space and Farmland Preservation Council.
According to Caryn Shinske, a public relations officer with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the total cost of the tract was $6 million. Millstone Township paid 10 percent of the property’s cost.
The state paid $4.9 million (82 percent) of the purchase price. The Monmouth County Park System paid $350,000 (5 percent) and the land trust D&R Greenway paid $150,000 (3 percent), according to Shinske.
Some of the money from the funding partners came from matching grants approved by the DEP’s Green Acres program, according to Shinske. After closing on the deal, the funding partners transferred their ownership interest to the state.
Prior to its purchase, the property was privately owned. At one point, Millstone officials entered a discussion with the owner about placing a farmland preservation easement on the property. The property owner was not named by the DEP.
State officials communicated with Millstone as the discussions progressed and in 2012 the state learned the owner wanted to sell the entire property. Representatives of the Green Acres program began considering the property for a potential state acquisition and entered talks with the project’s potential partners in early 2013, according to Shinske.
The property, which is known as the Perl South tract, is now owned by the DEP and managed by the DEP Division of Wildlife.
Managed for wildlife and wildlife-related recreation, the property has a diversity of habitats that include open farm fields and forested lands, including tributaries of the Ivanhoe Brook, which is within the Delaware River/Crosswicks Creek watershed. Members of the public can enjoy hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife watching activities at the property.