Aberdeen Purchases Nearly 22 Acres of Land for Passive Recreation Park
The township is now in negotiations for a second piece of land
Aberdeen Township recently purchased over 20 acres of land near the Old Bridge border, according to Township Manager Holly Reycraft.
The Greenwood Road property consists of old farm land, known as the Hauser farm, and woods which the township plans to preserve.
The site had been identified by the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program (HEP) as a priority for protection, due to its location in the headwaters area for the Matawan Creek, according to a press release issued by the township.
The HEP program, a National Estuary Program authorized in 1987 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a multi-year effort to develop and implement a plan to protect, conserve and restore the estuary surrounding the nation’s busiest port, which includes Raritan Bay.
"This will be a passive recreation park, so it will be left in its natural state for the time being," Reycraft said via email.
The 21.4 acre property was appraised at $950,000 by the Trust for Public Land. Over the past two years, Aberdeen secured $850,000 in grants, including $316,250 from New Jersey Green Acres Funds, $250,000 from County of Monmouth Open Space Funds, $130,000 from New Jersey DEP Natural Resource Restoration Fund, $143,750 from Trust for Public Land Capital Fund, and $10,000 from the Monmouth Conservation Foundation. New York-New Jersey Baykeeper assisted in obtaining funds from the NJ Office of Natural Resource Restoration.
The council passed an ordinance in early 2012 authorizing the township to bond $130,000 toward the purchase of the land. However, according to Reycraft, the township only had to contribute $100,000 to the property.
“The many partners involved in acquiring the Hauser Farm for open space reflect the value that Monmouth County residents place on local parks and the waterways that flow into Raritan Bay,” said Anthony Cucchi, state director for The Trust for Public Land, via press release. “The Trust for Public Land is pleased to be part of the partnership that came together to save this important property.”
One third of the property is forested and provides a protective border to the Matawan Creek on one side of the property and a tributary to the creek along its northwestern edge, according to the press release.
The associated wetlands and uplands are home to the New Jersey threatened Black-crowned Night-heron as well as the Cooper’s hawk, a New Jersey species of special concern. The property is also a feeding area for migratory birds as well as year-round habitat for red fox, turtles, and diverse wetland plant species such as Turk’s cap lily, blazing stars, various types of arrowhead plants and rhododendron known as swamp-honeysuckle, according to the press release.
“With a variety of passive recreation offerings that we envision to include hiking trails, picnic areas and bird-watching, this new park is sure to become a popular gathering spot for residents of all ages and interests," said Mayor Fred Tagliarini.
Aberdeen plans to purchase a similarly sized property, also on Greenwood Road, for the same purpose. The first piece can be turned into a passive recreation park before the second piece is acquired, according to Reycraft.
Reycraft was unable to release details concerning the second peice of land because they are currently in the negotiations phase, she said.