More than three years after the Mount Rose Preserve was created at the site of the former Western Electric/AT&T property on Carter Road, an additional parcel of land for the 350-acre public park has been secured, shared the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
On October 9, New Jersey Conservation purchased 11 acres where Western Electric’s large conference center and hotel once stood on the west side of Carter Road. Opened in 1959, the center was abandoned many years ago. The building was finally demolished and the land restored to open space per the terms of New Jersey Conservation’s contract to purchase the site.
“These 11 acres were the proverbial hole in the doughnut, since the surrounding land was preserved in 2015,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director. “We’re now looking forward to transforming it into a meadow of native plants and wildflowers, with a new trail for the public.”
New Jersey Conservation paid $52,250 for the land. “We’re very grateful to Mrs. Betty Wold Johnson, whose generosity made the final 11-acre purchase possible,” said Byers.
Katherine Dresdner, Esq. started the legal fight to preserve the land from inappropriate development in 2007 and worked with New Jersey Conservation to raise the funds for the project.
“I am very pleased that the final 11 acres have been purchased and the land is restored for the public to enjoy. It is a dream come true,” said Dresdner. “I want to thank the many partners, particularly Mercer County, Hopewell Township and New Jersey Conservation, who came together to make this new park a reality.”
Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes praised the new purchase. “With the removal of the former Western Electric conference center and acquisition by New Jersey Conservation Foundation, these additional acres will expand the Mount Rose Preserve, a significant natural resource in Hopewell Township,” he said. “The County is pleased to be working in partnership with New Jersey Conservation, Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, and the Township of Hopewell to safeguard the Preserve as an amenity for the residents of Mercer County and beyond.”
“Hopewell Township is very happy to see these 11 acres added to the Mount Rose Preserve, and we’re looking forward to seeing a new native meadow and hiking trail on the site,” said Mayor Kevin Kuchinski.
The bulk of the Mount Rose Preserve was acquired in April 2015 by a partnership of more than a dozen public agencies and nonprofit organizations, as part of an innovative project to convert the 1950s corporate campus into a public park.
In addition to New Jersey Conservation, Mercer County and Hopewell Township, partners included Hopewell Valley Citizens Group Inc., Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS), New Jersey Green Acres Program, The Watershed Institute, Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), Hopewell Borough, Pennington Borough, Friends of Princeton Open Space, D&R Greenway Land Trust, Lawrence Township, and Princeton.
The Mount Rose Preserve property was originally developed as a corporate park on both sides of Carter Road in Hopewell Valley for Western Electric/AT&T and was the first of its kind in the United States.
If it had not been preserved, this environmentally significant property with two high-quality streams in the Stony Brook watershed would have been used for 800,000 square feet of commercial office space and a high density housing project, bringing over 4,000 vehicles a day to rural Carter Road and threatening the region’s water resources.
The Mount Rose Preserve is now owned and managed by a partnership including New Jersey Conservation, Hopewell Township, Mercer County, and FoHVOS.
In addition to protecting water resources, the park provides critical habitat for threatened and endangered species, and a key link for the northern loop of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail (LHT) —a 30-mile regional trail system dedicated to walkers and cyclists.