Mining quarry to be transformed into park in Hopewell Township, draft plan presented

The Mercer County Park Commission revealed its draft master plan for the future of a 166-acre quarry in Hopewell Township, adjacent to the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain, at its third public meeting on Tuesday May 18. 

The property, known as “Moores Station Quarry,” has been quarried since the 1800s, most recently by the Trap Rock Industries, as previously reported by MercerMe. 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 is developing a master plan to transform the quarry property into a park after operations cease in the spring of 2023.

“The plan tonight is the result of the past 11 months of site visits, environmental analysis, and economic research,” said Anthony Cucchi, Superintendent of Parks at the Mercer County Park Commission, at Tuesday’s meeting.

As part of the community outreach, Cucchi explained that the group held 16 agency interviews and several meetings with the managers of the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain, the property’s most immediate neighbor. The Preserve is Hopewell Township’s largest contiguous forest, is co-owned with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Mercer County Park Commission, and Hopewell Township, and managed by Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS). Additionally, over 700 public also participated views via an online survey which received 700+ responses from the surrounding communities.

“A master plan is a concept plan,” explained Peter Simone, a consultant from Simone Collins Landscape Architecture. “And there is still plenty of time — 5 months or more — to stay involved in the project.”

The draft master plan envisions a “year-round facility,” according to Simone and his team, with multiple recreational uses beyond hiking including a quarter-mile ADA-accessible zip-line, BMX / mountain bike skill park, rock climbing, 19 campsites, challenge ropes course, enclosed lake swimming with floating dock and shower / restroom facilities, fishing, playground with boulder climbing and shade structures for outdoor classrooms, and a 50 foot waterfall. The property will aim to honor both the mining history and new ecological improvements.

“We have to come up with ways to artfully bring nature back into this space,” said Michael McGraw, consultant from RES (Applied Ecological Services), about restoring the current barren mining landscape to one that is natural. “There are some areas for safe activities for people but the rest is dynamic reclamation — this is the strategy we’re taking.”

The plan will also take advantage of the property’s proximity to nearby trails at Baldpate Mountain and the D&R Canal Trail. To that end, draft master plan also includes a pedestrian bridge that will cross River Road and another that will cross the D&R canal to the trail.

For full details and the presentation, please see this link.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

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