Montgomery Township officials acquired two open space parcels totaling 85 acres on May 21. The properties include a 25-acre agricultural property on Fairview Road from the Forfa Family and a 60-acre scenic property on Mountain View and Cherry Valley roads.
"When we admire the scenic vistas of Montgomery or walk the township nature trails, we must also appreciate the work of community advocates and township professionals who stayed the course, not just for years but for decades," Mayor Sadaf Jaffer said. “I would especially like to congratulate Open Space Committee Chairperson Clem Fiori, whose commitment and achievements in land preservation cannot be over-stated.”
The 60-acre parcel, which the township is purchasing from Thompson Land, is located along the west-side of Mountain View Road at Cherry Valley Road (see photo above and map image below.)
This piece has attracted a number of land development proposals over the years. It will augment a massive belt of open space on Mountain View Road, one of Montgomery’s most scenic byways. This also serves as a high-quality ecological reserve for grassland birds and other threatened species like the northern long-eared bat. The property includes agricultural fields to the south, and a woodland area and a tributary to Cherry Brook to the north. Montgomery’s Open Space Committee is considering future uses for this parcel including agriculture, inclusion in the Township’s deer management program, and as a future pathway connection to other preserved properties to the east.
Open Space Committee Chairperson Clem Fiori commented, “The Township pursued preservation of this property about 20 years ago, and wasn’t able to complete the process with the landowner. We are very happy to see it preserved now and added to the preserved open space corridor that stretches from Great Road (County Route 601) to Route 206.”
The 25-acre Forfa property on Fairview Road is a former agricultural field with small brook, located south of and downhill of Shadow Hill Christmas Tree Farm on Grandview Road (see map below).
It is located in ‘the foothills of the Sourlands’, and adjacent to other potential open space preservation opportunities. (There remains an outstanding view from the top of Grandview looking south to the Princeton ridge.) The property was purchased by the Forfa family in the 1980s with plans to create a residential subdivision. Instead, the family farmed this land for many years and became convinced that its best use was to remain as open space. The Open Space Committee is exploring future uses such as agriculture, reforestation, and inclusion in the Township’s deer management program.
Open Space serves many important societal and ecological purposes: passive recreational use; protection of important habitats, stream corridors, and floodplains; and preservation of scenic vistas.
Committeeperson Ed Trzaska commented, "These two new deals show our continued commitment to preserving our rural character and quality of life in town. The 60-acre Thompson tract took a long time to get over the finish line and I'm thrilled that our hard work paid off. It's always a great accomplishment to add to our open space portfolio."
Deputy Mayor Catherine Gural summed up: "As the liaison to the Open Space Committee, I have direct line of sight into the hard work performed behind the scenes to make these acquisitions possible. I have to recognize Lauren Wasilauski, our Open Space Coordinator for all of her efforts. Montgomery is very lucky to have someone with her expertise and commitment. She reminds us daily of the value of having a role like this in our township. Her partnership with Clem Fiori, who himself has boundless knowledge on Open Space makes them a force in the area of preservation."