New Park for Somerdale, NJ

Somerdale Borough, NJ, November 8, 2005 – The nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today the third Camden County property it has protected in the last two weeks. Protection of the 15-acre Kirkwood Forest property in Voorhees Township comes on the heels of the protection of nine acres along the South Branch of the Cooper River in Somerdale Borough and the 35-acre Signal Hill property in the Borough of Clementon.

The announcement comes on Election Day, as Camden County voters will decide whether or not to increase the Open Space, Recreation, Farmland, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund levy. If approved by the voters, the funds would be used for similar projects to protect drinking water sources and water quality, improve park safety, and preserve natural areas and open space throughout Camden County.

“Because of these protection efforts, these properties are protected and will be open to the public for generations to come rather than converted into private office space,” said Cindy Roberts, senior project manager for the Trust for Public Land.

“These lands will remain protected not only for the enjoyment of local citizens, but for all residents throughout Camden County,” said Freeholder Jeffrey L. Nash, liaison to the county’s Open Space Trust Fund Advisory Committee. “I commend everyone whose hard work made this possible.”

This is the third property protected through the partnership of the Township of Voorhees and the Trust for Public Land. In 2001, the duo protected the 49-acre Lafferty Asphalt Plant property, which is now John Connolly Park. In 2004, they teamed up again to protect the 140-acre Stafford Farm as active agricultural land and public open space.

“Voorhees Township is pleased to continue our open space preservation efforts,” said Mayor Michael Mignogna. “We appreciate the work of the Trust for Public Land in helping us achieve our preservation goals and hope and plan to continue this work with their assistance.”

Funding for the $1.5 million Voorhees purchase was provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program ($650,000 township grant and $100,000 nonprofit grant to TPL), and $500,000 from Camden County, and $250,000 from the Voorhees Township Open Space Fund.

Funding for the $1.1 million Sommerdale Borough purchase was provided by the Camden County Open Space Trust Fund ($550,000), NJDEP Green Acres Program ($272,500 grant to Somerdale Borough), and the NJDEP Office of Natural Resource Restoration ($150,000 grant to the nonprofit Conservation Resources, Inc.). The William Penn Foundation also contributed $127,500 to the Trust for Public Land for the acquisition.

“I’m thrilled that we were able to get the cooperation and participation of TPL, Camden County, and Green Acres in order to preserve this important land that we have along the Greenway in our community,” said Somerdale Mayor Gary Passanante. According to the mayor, the local grammar school, Parks School, is holding a competition to name the park. The mayor expects to hold a dedication ceremony at the park when a name is chosen. The land is adjacent to a 2.2-acre wetland site previously preserved by Somerdale Borough.

All three properties are part of the River to Bay Greenway initiative, a vision for a multi-use recreational route that will span 70 miles of southern New Jersey to link the Delaware River to the Barnegat Bay. The initiative was started by TPL in 2000, and in just five years, the group and its partners have protected nine properties totaling 418 acres.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) 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. TPL started its River to Bay Greenway initiative in 2000 to give residents in rapidly growing southern New Jersey communities the opportunity to connect with some of the state’s most impressive natural areas. The River to Bay Greenway efforts have been made possible by the commitment of Camden County, the State of New Jersey, various municipalities, and private support from the William Penn Foundation. With its state office in Morristown, TPL has protected approximately 23,000 acres throughout New Jersey.