Helmut Schwab is a dedicated environmentalist who played a significant role in the preservation of the Institute for Advanced Study Woods.
Last week, the Princeton Council honored Schwab, a long-time Princeton resident, by proclaiming Jan. 14 as Helmut Schwab day.
“He is a hero (to the cause of open space preservation). We are excited to help celebrate your birthday with you,” Mayor Liz Lempert said. Schwab celebrated his 90th birthday on Jan. 5.
Mayor Lempert and Princeton Council presented Schwab with a proclamation that outlined his contributions to the preservation of open space and the development of trails through the town’s parks.
When the Institute for Advanced Study announced its plans to develop a wooded area that it owns on Quaker Road, Schwab quickly jumped into action and organized a meeting at his home to hammer out a way to preserve the woods, according to the proclamation. A strategy was devised to preserve the wooded area.
“Once the Friends of Princeton Open Space, the Watershed Institute, the D&R Greenway, Princeton (Township) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reached the framework of an agreement with the Institute for Advanced Study, Helmut tirelessly prodded friends, neighbor and acquaintances to donate money to purchase the development rights,” the proclamation said.
Through that public-private partnership, 589 acres of woods that belonged to the Institute for Advanced Study were preserved. The deal was finalized in 1997.
Schwab, who is a trustee emeritus of the Friend of Princeton Open Space’s board of trustees, also was the driving force behind the effort to create a system of trails to link Princeton’s parks and open space parcels, the proclamation said.
And Schwab “responded to the almost fantastical suggestion that a pedestrian bridge could provide the critical link in a Stony Brook trail from Rosedale Road to Route 206/Stockton Street and make it real,” the proclamation said.
The bridge, which crosses the Stony Brook, did become a reality.
Schwab, who attended the Princeton Council’s Jan. 14 meeting, said he was “deeply grateful” to be honored by Princeton Council.
“This is how democracy works. So many people are involved in the life of the city. It is amazing how people in Princeton feel they should contribute something,” Schwab said.
“Thank you for allowing me to be a citizen of Princeton,” Schwab said.