Stafford Woods Added to Voorhees Parkland (NJ)

Voorhees Township, NJ, 8/5/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Township of Voorhees announced today the purchase of Stafford Woods, which will add to the township’s parkland and provide parking and a trailhead for the stagecoach trail that traverses Stafford Park. The property, which is located at the intersection of Evesham Road and White Horse Road was spared additional development through the deal with the protection of an over five-acre wooded property near the northeast corner, on which developers had planned to build a pharmacy and commercial strip. Additionally, one of the houses on the existing property will be converted into an environmental education center to serve the local community.

The protection effort complements the 2004 purchase of 140 acres by TPL, the township, county and state and the preservation of the adjacent Stafford Farm. Half of Stafford Farm was preserved as a farmland, where the sight of horses is well known and loved by area residents. The other half preserved as open space.

“The woods and the horses on this busy corner are not only a visual break in the monotony of development and traffic, they are an historic remnant of Voorhees Township and of New Jersey that we must protect,” said Cindy Roberts, project manager for The Trust for Public Land.

Funding for the $2.75 million purchase was made available from public sources, including Voorhees Township, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program and Camden County Open Space Preservation Trust Fund. The land was purchased from Medibuild, Inc.

“The purchase of this parcel preserves the scenic vista of the historic Stafford Farm and is another step in the open space preservation efforts of Voorhees Township,” said Voorhees Mayor Mike Mignogna.

“Camden County is proud to assist Voorhees Township in the purchase of this property to both maintain the natural setting of the farm and provide greater public access to the woods behind the farm,” said Freeholder Jeff Nash, Liasion to the County’s Division of Open Space and Farmland Preservation.

This suburban community in Camden County is less than 12 square miles, but its location less than 20 miles east of Philadelphia and midway between New York and Washington, D.C. make it desirable for development. With “build out” for the town projected for 2015, the Voorhees Master Plan (revised in 1998) emphasizes preserving open space, limits developers to fewer houses per acre, and proposes an 18-mile bikeway through the township.

“The DEP is proud to have played a part in preserving these five acres,” said DEP Green Acres Administrator John Flynn. “The public will benefit from greater access to Stafford Park and enjoy the environmental education center that is planned for the site.”

The Trust for Public Land has been instrumental in helping Voorhees achieve its land conservation goals through the River to Bay Greenway initiative-a partnership of TPL and local communities that provides linkages to existing parks, protects additional land and creates new parks. Key projects include the 2004 protection of Stafford Farm and the 2001 acquisition of the 49-acre Lafferty Asphalt Plant property, which has now been converted into Connolly Park and is widely used by residents.

The River to Bay Greenway is a proposed multi-use recreational greenway that spans 70 miles across southern New Jersey and links the Delaware River and the Barnegat Bay. By protecting land to create new parks, as is the case with Stafford Farm, the River to Bay Greenway enhances recreational resources for urban and suburban residents in rapidly growing Camden, Burlington and Ocean counties.

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 2.5 million acres nationwide, including more than 23,000 acres in New Jersey.