The future of a 166-acre quarry adjacent to the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain in Hopewell Township was discussed at the first of four Mercer County Parks Commission meetings, Tuesday, December 2.
The property, known as “Moores Station Quarry,” has been operating since the 1800s, most recently by the Trap Rock Industries as previously reported by MercerMe. The Moores Station Quarry was acquired by Mercer County along with Baldpate Mountain in 1998 with the intention to create a park.
The Park Commission is developing a Master Plan to transform the property into a park after quarrying operations cease in the spring of 2023. The Park Commission website further explains: “Currently, there is no plan for the park or the types of recreational facilities that will be developed. However, since the quarrying operations have created a unique landscape, there are opportunities for facilities and activities that are well-suited to this landscape. Examples of recreational opportunities include mountain biking, rock climbing, and other activities and facilities that fit into this highly disturbed landscape.”
In preparation for the upcoming transition, the Mercer County Park Commission is conducting a public planning effort to solicit input as it develops a park master plan for the site by holding four public meetings. (please confirm with Parks Commission website for time and location):
- Meeting #1 – Tuesday, December 2: project background and brainstorming (Information and slides from this meeting is available on the Parks Commission website)
- Meeting #2 – Tuesday, February 23, 2021: concept review and feedback
- Meeting #3 – Tuesday, May, 18, 2021: draft plan presentation (followed by a 60-day draft plan review)
- Meeting #4 – Tuesday, October 12, 2021: final plan presentation
The first meeting, on December 2, was facilitated by Paul Simone, from Simone Collins Landscape Architecture, who, with a panel of consultants, offered some big-picture information about the property to 110 virtual attendees. The Parks Commission’s consultant team includes landscape architects, ecologists, biologists and sustainability experts.
To get a sense of scale, consultant Sarah Leeper also from Simone Collins, presented a site context map of the 166 acres adjacent to the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain. The “pit floor,” which is the lowest point of the property, is 8 acres in size at base and 116 feet below sea level. At its highest, the property reaches 300 feet in elevation resulting in “dramatic elevation changes” and views. To find all presentation materials, see this link.
With regard to the ecological considerations, repair to “some or all of this highly disturbed landscape will definitely be one of the considerations for the site,” according to the Commission FAQ. At the meeting, it was described by consultants as a “massive construction site devoid of vegetation” with “dramatic views and landscape” offering a “unique opportunity.”
Possible uses include rock climbing, swimming, and, ideally, “utilizing 12 months of the year so there may be different recreational concepts considered,” according to consultant Tod Poole from 4Ward Planning, who said they would explore “water-based recreation, land based recreation, and ecological reclamation.”
Some of the goals include benefits to local residents. “Outside visitors can come, but this should first benefit those who live locally and take into consideration the thoughts of those from the area,” said Poole, who also urged that the quarry should be “leveraged for its uniqueness.” “Because of the size, it could pull from 90 mins to 2 hours away depending on the activities that will take place there,” said Poole.
Jeff Titel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, applauded the reclamation of the Quarry: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the County and the region from an environmental and recreational standpoint.” However, Titel urged the Parks Commission to consider more passive recreation including camping and include the community in site restoration such as the erection of a nature center.
The Mercer County Parks Commission encourages all interested persons to attend the virtual public meetings that will be held as a part of the master planning process. Please visit the Mercer County Park Commission website at http://mercercountyparks.org/ to learn how to attend a meeting. Updates during the year-long master planning process also will be posted to the County Park Commission website.