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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

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University donates land for open space in South Brunswick

In an effort that eventually could preserve 214 acres of land from development, Princeton University has turned over the deed for the first 10 acres of property it owned in South Brunswick Township.

The University has pledged to convey a total of 134 acres that will become part of a tract known as "Mapleton Preserve at South Brunswick." It will serve as an open space buffer for both the Delaware and Raritan Canal and the village of Kingston.

The land is part of property the University purchased 18 years ago from Princeton Nurseries. A total of 194 acres are expected to be preserved as open space. This figure includes the Princeton property as well as about 60 acres the state's Green Acres program is negotiating to acquire from Princeton Nurseries. The tract also will include 20 acres that house historic nursery structures that are being preserved, for a total of 214 acres.

In addition to the land, the University has committed $100,000 in cash to the implementation of the preservation plan. The property is intended to be used as an interpretive outdoor educational, horticultural and historic preservation center and greenway.

"This preservation project reflects goals that we established for Princeton Forrestal Center when it began in the 1970s, and for the lands that we acquired from Princeton Nurseries in 1986," said Robert Durkee, vice president and secretary of the University, during an Oct. 29 ceremony at the site. "These goals can fairly be described as a commitment to 'smart growth' before the term became a central part of the regional planning vocabulary, and to development that simultaneously enhances the economic vitality and the quality of life in our region.

"At the conclusion of this open space initiative," he added, "Princeton University will have preserved 650 acres of open space in Plainsboro and South Brunswick."

Durkee noted that the preservation represents the realization of a public/private vision involving New Jersey Green Acres, the township of South Brunswick, the trustees of the University and the residents of South Brunswick. The University particularly expressed gratitude to South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese, to representatives from New Jersey Green Acres and to Bob Wolfe and David Knights, who manage the University's Forrestal properties in South Brunswick and Plainsboro.

The 194 acres will be preserved, maintained and owned by the state of New Jersey, South Brunswick Township and the University, which is retaining ownership of 31.5 acres that will serve as detention basins but will remain deed-restricted open space.

The University also will continue to own 150 acres of land in South Brunswick for future office/research development along Route 1. By concentrating development along this existing major roadway, the University will be able to generate resources to support its programs of teaching and research while also protecting environmentally sensitive areas, preserving historic structures and minimizing traffic impact on the historic town of Kingston, Durkee said.

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