MONROE – The township can soon add 76 acres of land toward its goal of preserving half of Monroe Township as open space.
Middlesex County, in partnership with the township, is negotiating a contract to purchase 76 acres of wooded land on the western side of Perrineville Road, south of Union Valley Road.
The large parcel, currently owned by Galaxy Land Corp., served as a farm from the 1930s-80s. Over the past 30 years, it has reverted to forest.
“This effort is yet another strong example of our close relationship with Middlesex County,” said Monroe Mayor Gerald W. Tamburro. “We have a shared commitment with our county leaders to ensure 50% of the land area in Monroe ultimately is preserved as untouchable open space for generations and generations to come. This former farm is a beautiful piece of land and when approved, would be one of the largest parcels secured for preservation.”
Tamburro has targeted the tract for open space in recent years, noting it is surrounded by preserved space on three sides and will ultimately create a large forest that would be unique to most, if not all, municipalities in the county.
Funding will come from the Middlesex County Open Space Recreation and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. Funds from the municipal budget will not be used.
“Our ongoing and productive partnership with Mayor Tamburro and Monroe Township is a key reason as to why we are purchasing this property,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Charles Kenny, who chairs the county’s Infrastructure Management Committee. “We are committed to using the county’s open space fund strategically, ensuring it is used for the maximum benefit. This 76-acre parcel in Monroe is a terrific opportunity and an ideal use of this funding.”
Middlesex County Freeholder Leslie Koppel, who lives in Monroe and has been a long-time supporter of Monroe’s open space plan, said the county is on target to preserve more than 130 acres in Monroe this year.
“This has been a tremendous partnership,” Koppel said. “Working together, I am sure we will help Monroe achieve its goal of 50% land preservation in the township.”
Middlesex County recently purchased 59 acres of wooded land – the Otto and Mary E. Pohl on Federal Road – just south of the 76-acre parcel earlier this year, Monroe Council President Steven Dalina said.
The land was purchased through the Middlesex County Open Space, Recreation and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund for a price not to exceed $508,000 and comprised of approximately 34 acres at the southwest corner of Perrineville Road and 25 acres on the north side of Federal Road.
Officials said nothing is on the Pohl estate except for thick forested woods.
“Not only do open space purchases avoid future development, but we are also preserving thousands of trees and a very balanced ecosystem of forest and fauna,” he said. “Monroe could not have accomplished this feat without such support from the county. The real winners, however, are the residents of Monroe.”
The additional open space acreage increases Monroe Township’s open space inventory to nearly 8,000 acres.