FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 10/03/11
PRINCETON TWP. - About 75 members of the Princeton community celebrated the preservation of the 14-acre former Ricciardi property on Bunn Drive, a keystone parcel in the new Princeton Ridge Preserve, on Sunday, Oct. 2.
As Congressman Rush Holt and state Green Acres Program administrator Richard Boornazian looked on, a lineup of local dignitaries – including Mayor Chad Goerner and Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes - snipped a ribbon at the entrance of the parcel to officially dedicate the new natural area.
The Ricciardi property was purchased in August by a public-nonprofit partnership that included the state Green Acres Program, Mercer County, Princeton Township, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Friends of Princeton Open Space and Kingston Greenways Association.
The property forms the nucleus of the new Princeton Ridge Preserve, connecting two adjacent properties: the 35-acre All Saints Church property, which was just acquired by the D&R Greenway Land Trust and the Friends of Princeton Open Space; and 17 acres of the former Lowe property, to be donated by J. Robert Hillier.
These lands will link to Herrontown Woods, Hilltop Park and Autumn Hill Reservation. Plans call for a network of interconnected walking trails that will be open to the public.
Preserving the Ricciardi property – which could have been developed for up to 47 homes – was a true community effort that took more than two years. In addition to the state, county and local open space funds that were dedicated to the project, more than 100 private donors contributed over $350,000 to fill a funding gap.
“This is how we save the things that matter to us – one individual at a time,” said Wendy Mager, president of the Friends of Princeton Open Space, during a reception at the Mountain Lakes House after the ribbon-cutting.
The Princeton Ridge’s forests provide habitat for several endangered and threatened species, including the wood turtle, eastern box turtle, Cooper’s hawk and barred owl. In addition to protecting wildlife habitat, the forests preserve local water quality and prevent flooding.