Princeton donates land for open space in central New Jersey

Princeton University has donated 127 acres of land in Plainsboro and South Brunswick as part of a collaborative effort with state and municipal governments to preserve open space in central New Jersey.

The property is located within the state-designated Princeton Nurseries Historic District and buffers the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park and the village of Kingston. This donation is part of an initiative by the state Department of Environmental Protection's Green Acres program, South Brunswick Township, Plainsboro Township and the University to preserve 187 acres of open space that will be managed as a park.

The donation includes 10 acres in South Brunswick that the University turned over in October. Including the latest donation, the University has preserved 650 acres of open space in Plainsboro and South Brunswick as part of initiatives undertaken since the establishment of the Princeton Forrestal Center in the 1970s and the University's acquisition of lands from Princeton Nurseries in 1986.

"Princeton University is proud to be a partner in this important preservation effort," said Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman. "This project reflects our longstanding goals to enhance both the economic vitality and the quality of life in central New Jersey."

In addition to the University donation, the DEP has acquired 60 acres from Princeton Nurseries. The purchase includes the headquarters of Princeton Nurseries, which began operating in 1911 and once was the largest commercial nursery business in the United States. In its 93 years of operation, Princeton Nurseries introduced plant varieties including the Princeton Elm and the Snow Queen Hydrangea.

The 127-acre parcel of land donated by the University is adjacent to the Princeton Nurseries property.

"The preservation of this property represents a true public-private partnership," said Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey. "By coming together to protect this open space, we are preserving the quality of life New Jersey residents enjoy. The Princeton Nurseries property is especially important, given the contributions it made to our state's and our nation's nursery industry over the past nine decades."

In addition to the land, the University has committed $100,000 toward the development of the preservation plan. This donation will be used along with a $300,000 endowment provided by the former landowner and additional funds from South Brunswick and the DEP to devise plans for the rehabilitation of the nursery buildings for public education and recreation.