110 Acres Protected for Upper Freehold, NJ

Upper Freehold, NJ, 4/17/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today the protection of 101 acres of open space in Upper Freehold and Allentown through a partnership with the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program, Upper Freehold Township, Allentown Borough, Monmouth Conservation Foundation, Monmouth County, and private donors. The $4,430,000 purchase was negotiated by TPL, a nonprofit land conservation organization. The land is now owned by the state, Upper Freehold Township, and Allentown Borough and will be managed by the township and the borough.

A group in support of the acquisition enlisted the assistance of TPL to help protect the views surrounding the historic borough of Allentown. The land has been the focus of several development plans over the years, including a golf course community and, more recently, large commercial warehouses.

“Future generations can come and enjoy this beautiful setting thanks to the protection efforts of this group of partners,” said Kathy Haake, project manager for The Trust for Public Land. “It is very gratifying to see this property protected.”

The land is adjacent to Heritage Park in Allentown and 117 acres in Upper Freehold, which were very recently purchased by the Upper Freehold Regional Board of Education for a new elementary school. An additional adjacent 50-acre tract in neighboring Robbinsville Township may also be added to the assembly of open space creating a swath of more than 300 acres of publicly owned lands.

“We are pleased with the acquisition and I would like to express my thanks to all the parties involved,” said Stephen J. Alexander, Mayor of Upper Freehold Township.

Of the jointly owned property, Allentown Borough will manage the acreage nearest their Heritage Park and Upper Freehold will manage the balance. These acres will remain farmland until other passive recreation plans are developed by the owning partners.

“This open space acquisition means that our children can learn in the midst of the best agricultural, rural, historical, and environmental setting, with accessibility for people to walk, congregate, and enjoy the serene peacefulness of this preserve,” said Mayor Stuart A. Fierstein of Allentown Borough. “This conservation effort of Breza Road ranks amongst the most gratifying and tangible accomplishments that I have had the pleasure to work on as the mayor of Allentown.”

Monmouth County has awarded grants to both the borough and the township in support of this acquisition through their Municipal Open Space Grants Program. Additional funding was provided from Monmouth Conservation Foundation’s capital campaign as well as funds awarded to them from the NJ DEP Green Acres program.

“Monmouth Conservation Foundation is pleased to have worked on a cooperative effort to save this beautiful piece of land. We are happy to assist both Upper Freehold Township and Allentown Borough in their open space preservation initiatives,” said Adele Keller, executive director.

Funding from the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program was provided as part of their Crossroads of the American Revolution Project Area initiative. In addition to its historic significance, the property provides critical watershed protection with both Doctor’s Creek and Indian Run traversing the site.

This is the third land conservation project The Trust for Public Land has completed in Monmouth County in the last nine months. Last August, the group worked with the Township of Ocean to purchase the 19.5-acre Colonial Terrace golf course. In November, TPL and the Borough of Rumson teamed up to protect the remainder of Gunning Island in the Shrewsbury River.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.4 million acres nationwide, including more than 25,000 acres in New Jersey.