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January 19, 2005

Contact: Erin Phalon
(609) 984-1795


DEP Acquires Princeton Nurseries Property

Princeton University Donates More Than 125 Acres

(05/03) TRENTON -- Highlighting the importance of saving open space in central New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the preservation of 187 acres in Plainsboro and South Brunswick townships in Middlesex County. The property is located within the State Princeton Nurseries Historic District and is adjacent to the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park.

"The preservation of this property represents a true public-private partnership," said Acting Governor 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."

Commissioner Campbell announced the acquisition at the former 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 created plant varieties including the Princeton Elm and the Snow Queen Hydrangea.

"Today's announcement signifies the realization of a vision shared by the DEP Green Acres Program, Princeton University, South Brunswick and Plainsboro," said Commissioner Campbell. "The protection of this parcel will provide recreation opportunities, protect the nursery's historic buildings and open fields and prevent future development at this site, which is located in a densely populated area."

The property was preserved through a partnership between the DEP Green Acres Program, Princeton University and South Brunswick Township. As part of the preservation project, DEP purchased approximately 60 acres of land at a cost of $2,794,565. DEP will manage a seven-acre portion of the Princeton Nurseries property as an addition to the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. The headquarters building, which is located on this parcel, will serve as an interpretive center to be used by visitors to the park.

The remaining 53 acres are co-owned by DEP and South Brunswick and will be managed by South Brunswick as a park to be used for passive recreation. This parcel includes warehouse buildings, the historic propagation house and eight greenhouses. Using a $300,000 endowment provided by the former landowner and additional funding from Princeton University, DEP and South Brunswick will develop a preservation plan that will include the rehabilitation of these buildings for public education and recreation purposes.

"After five years of negotiation, I am pleased that this beautiful preserve will remain as open space," said South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese. "I am excited that this acreage will be transformed into an interpretive educational, horticultural and historic preservation center as well as a historic landscape greenway."

DEP also secured State Historic Preservation Easements to protect the facades of historic homes located on the property. These homes, which once housed employees of Princeton Nurseries, were built in the early 1900s. The historic preservation easements were developed in conjunction with and will be enforced by the State Historic Preservation Office.

Princeton University donated to the State of New Jersey and South Brunswick a 127-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Princeton Nurseries property. The land is part of property the University purchased 19 years ago from Princeton Nurseries. Princeton University also retained several historic residences from the same era as the headquarters building and will place Historic Preservation façade easements on these residences at no cost to the State.

"Princeton University is proud to be a partner in this important preservation effort," said Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman. "This project reflects goals that we established for Princeton Forrestal Center when it began in the 1970s, and for the land that we acquired from Princeton Nurseries in 1986. These goals can be described as a commitment to both the economic vitality and the quality of life in Central New Jersey. With this project, Princeton University will have contributed to the preservation of 650 acres of permanent open space in the region."

"All parties are to be congratulated for the cooperation and effort that resulted in this significant addition in preserved open space," said Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu. "It represents an important accomplishment, not only for the communities involved, but for the entire Central Jersey region."

The DEP Green Acres Program purchases land to protect environmentally sensitive open space, water resources and other significant natural and historical open space. Land acquired becomes part of the statewide system of parks and forest, wildlife management areas and natural areas.

In 2004, the Green Acres Program acquired 23,237 acres of open space. To date, Green Acres has protected 686,745 acres of open space and provided funding to develop hundreds of parks statewide. The statewide system of preserved open space and farmland totals almost 1.3 million acres.



NJDEP Green Acres Program


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Last Updated: January 19, 2005