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Hopewell Quarry to Reopen Under New Ownership

By Anna Reinalda l November 1, 2021

After a season off, the beloved Hopewell Quarry is expected to reopen this coming summer under new ownership. Friends of Hopewell Quarry, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, held a tour on October 23 to reintroduce the neighborhood swimming hole to the community.

Hopewell Quarry

The Hopewell Quarry has been a cherished landmark of central New Jersey for nearly a century. Several of the tour attendees have been frequenting the swimming hole since their youth, and brought their own children there to swim after becoming parents. It was sorely missed during its closure.

“My kids learned to swim here,” said one mother, whose family has been attending the quarry for over a decade. Friends of Hopewell Quarry Board members Melanie Staff-Parsons, Nick Perold, Scot Pannepacker, and Jana Pika, hosted the tour.

Attendees snacked on donuts and local cider as they discussed the future of the quarry. Leading the tour, Staff-Parsons explained some improvements the board is planning: upgrades of the floating docks, removal of invasive plant species and fixing up the public areas. “We want to modernize ... while retaining the back-in-time feeling,” Staff-Parsons said. In addition to the swimming hole, the eight-acre property features a wading pool, a concession kitchen, changing rooms, and a volleyball court.

Friends of Hopewell Quarry purchased the property from the Gipton family, who owned the land for more than 30 years. The nonprofit was able to make the purchase with help from local donors, and Green Acres funding is on the way. “Several people in the community … were incredibly generous to support us,” Staff-Parsons said.

Purchasing the land itself is only a small part of the resources needed to restore the quarry. Perold said the board will soon begin a capital campaign with a goal of $1 million dollars to effect the many projects that are scheduled. The board is also brainstorming ideas for making use of the property during the colder seasons when swimming is less popular. Ideas for yoga classes and retreats, outdoor movie screenings, music concerts, craft shows, and community engagement programs were all put forward by the tour attendees.

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The quarry became a popular swimming hole in the early 1900s when, following the bankruptcy of the mining company that was excavating it, a natural spring filled the giant hole with water. Locals sought its cool water and shade trees as a venue to relax and socialize in the summer months. Pannepacker, whose background is in historical preservation, enjoys that not much has changed since the quarry’s early days, and said visiting the quarry “is like stepping back in time.”

The small-town character of the quarry is an important aspect to the community. For roughly 20 years quarry access was limited to members who purchased an all-season pass. The exclusive nature of this system ensured that it was never very crowded, and that the same faces were seen all summer long. However, Friends of Hopewell Quarry are making moves to open the Quarry to non-members in 2022. “We want to make this an inclusive place,” Staff-Parsons said. “We want to build a community.”

Many logistical aspects of the reopening remain to be decided, but it is abundantly clear that each member of the Board is fully committed to fostering the charm and character of Hopewell’s famous landmark. Perold said they are enthusiastic to put in the work to make the Quarry “something Hopewell can continue to be proud of for generations to come.” Friends of Hopewell Quarry is seeking both volunteers and donations to keep operations in motion.

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