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Home Featured ‘It brings out the little boy in me’

‘It brings out the little boy in me’

‘It brings out the little boy in me’
Sourland Woods, New Jersey trails

The Princeton Council gave final approval to a pair of ordinances to purchase the 90-acre Lanwin Development Corp. property on the Princeton Ridge for $9.1 million.

The purchase brings an end to Lanwin Development Corp.’s years-long effort to seek approval to subdivide the land into 29 building lots for single-family homes.

Supporters of the purchase praised the Princeton Council for approving the ordinances to buy the parcel and to pay for it at the council’s April 8 meeting.

“The 90-acre parcel is the second largest undeveloped tract in Princeton,” Councilwoman Eve Niedergang said, noting it is bordered by Mt. Lucas Road, Herrontown Road and Herrontown Lane.

Niedergang said Princeton’s share of the $9.1 million price tag is approximately $2 million. It will come from the town’s dedicated open space fund.

The rest of the money is coming from several sources, including a $3.2 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres program.

Also, Mercer County approved a $2.1 million grant for its Open Space Assistance Fund. Private funding and donations are expected to total $1.8 million.

Wendy Mager, president of the Friends of Princeton Open Space, thanked the municipal staff and the town’s nonprofit partners for helping to make the purchase happen.

“Efforts to preserve the land on the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge date to as early as the 1980s,” she said.

The Lanwin tract had been identified in a prior Princeton Community Master Plan as an important parcel to preserve for open space.

Christopher Barr, executive director of the Ridgeview Conservancy, also thanked the Princeton Council and singled out Niedergang and Council president Mia Sacks for their leadership in the effort to preserve the tract.

“This property is significant for supporting climate resilience,” Barr said. “The streams that run through it support a mega-population of amphibians.”

“It also provides a habitat for critical and endangered species such as the wood turtle and the red shouldered hawk.”

It wasn’t just environmentalists who praised the Princeton Council for its actions, but also surrounding residents.

Rob Tangin, who lives on Shady Brook Lane on the opposite side of town, said he likes to walk in the woods. He has walked along that stretch of Herrontown Road dozens of times.

“It brings out the little boy in me,” he said. “I look at the woods and I wonder what’s over there. Thanks to your work to preserve it, I’m going to get to go walk around in there now and find out.”

Attorney Bruce Afran, who represented objectors to the proposed development, pointed out that some of the trees on the land are more than 200 years old. Some of the land had been farmed, but the last farming activity occurred about 30 years ago, he said.

Afran described it as “an extremely rare piece of property.”

“It is a recovery woods and part of it is virtually virgin woodlands,” he said.

Afran also complimented the Thompson family, who are the principals in the Lanwin Development Corp.

“They were agreeable to preserving it and although it was a very high price in some ways, everyone came together,” he said.