The Mercer County Park Commission approved its final master plan for the future of a 166-acre quarry in Hopewell Township, adjacent to the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain, at its regular monthly public meeting on October 25, 2021.

The property, known as “Moores Station Quarry,” has been quarried since the 1800s, most recently by the Trap Rock Industries. The quarry was acquired by Mercer County along with Baldpate Mountain in 1998 with the intent to create a park. At this juncture, the Park Commission has developed a master plan to transform the quarry property into a park after operations cease in the spring of 2023.

Park Commission Executive Director Aaron Watson described the process as “thorough and transparent,” incorporating “extensive feedback” in the creation of the plan. Watson cited the numerous opportunities for public input including three public meetings over the course of the year. For MercerMe’s coverage of the process and public meetings, check out this link.

Peter Simone, of Simone Collins Landscape Architecture, presented the final draft as a “high level summary” and suggested that this concept plan can be viewed online to capture the breadth of the project. The plan can be found on the Park Commission’s website at: http://mercercountyparks.org/#!/about/moores-station-quarry-park-plan.

The draft master plan envisions a “year-round facility,” according to Simone and his team, with multiple recreational uses beyond hiking including an ADA-accessible zip-line, rock climbing, 19 campsites, enclosed lake swimming with floating dock and shower / restroom facilities, fishing, playgrounds, and a 50 foot waterfall. The property transformation aims to honor both the mining history and new ecological improvements, MercerMe reported.

Simone explained that, with ecological restoration, 89% of the property will remain green or blue with 29% of that remaining untouched from its current state. Under the stewardship management plan, the Commission will remove invasive species and plant native plants, while “trying to balance that with human use,” said SImone, who said the Commission is working closely with Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS), which occupies the adjoining Baldpate Mountain, and DEP.

Ponds will occupy almost 17 acres – 10% of the property — with a maximum depth of 50 feet. While it will take four to five years for the lower pond to naturally fill, it will eventually be a place for water activities including swimming, with have restrooms, shower, and changing facilities

The next steps are mapped out in a 10-year “aspirational” phasing schedule, according to Simone. When the lease ends in March 2023, “we want the healing to begin as soon as possible on this site,” said Simone.

The project was applauded by James Schultz, Mercer County Park Commission president, as well as Mercer County Commissioner Lucy Walter

“I want to thank the Park Commission for their detailed, thought-out process for this particular property,” said Walter. “This is an area that has incredible educational value for the community. The idea that land can be worked and brought back — there is a lesson in there too. Thank you all for the time and effort put in. I’m really looking forward to hiking it someday and maybe even doing a zip line. I know the Board is watching this project and we’re very supportive for it coming to fruition for the community.”

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