April 8, 2020

Consortium Conserves Ridgeview Road Lot Supporting Headwaters to Mountain Brook

To the Editor:

This past Friday, a small yet remarkable piece of the Princeton Ridge was secured for permanent conservation. A consortium led by The Watershed Institute, Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), and Ridgeview Conservancy purchased an environmentally sensitive property at 394 Ridgeview Road to protect it from development. The 3-acre lot, which had previously been approved for construction, supports the headwaters to Mountain Brook, a tributary to Mountain Lake in the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve.

The headwaters lot lies at the heart of a 20-acre wetland structure, which provides critical habitat and serves as an important corridor for a range of wildlife species. It also plays a key role in stormwater runoff and a much-needed link between preserved lands in the Ridgeview Woods, Mountain Lake, and Woodfield Preserve.

Conserving the headwaters of Mountain Brook was a real team effort, involving a consortium of environmental groups and land trusts, government agencies at multiple levels, members of the Princeton community, and the developer who previously owned the property. On behalf of Ridgeview Conservancy, we want to thank our partners, Jim Waltman and Michael Pisauro at The Watershed Institute and Wendy Mager at FOPOS, for collaborating on this initiative over the past 18 months and for guiding the process to a successful outcome.

We are extremely grateful to New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program and to Mercer County’s Open Space Preservation Program, which together provided much of the funding used to purchase the property for conservation. Princeton municipality also contributed funds and played a central role in facilitating this initiative, and we are grateful for the support provided by Mayor Liz Lempert and members of the Council.

We also thank members of Princeton’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, most notably Eve Coulson and Michelle Pirone Lambros, for initially encouraging the property’s previous owner to work with concerned community members to explore options for conservation, rather than development. Princeton’s Environmental Commission, led by Sophie Glovier, supported preservation of the headwaters lot by passing a resolution highlighting its environmental significance.

We gratefully acknowledge the D&R Land Trust for providing funds to support the purchase, as well as several families within the Princeton community who made generous private donations.
Finally, we want to thank Mr. Liping An of Ridgeview Property LLC, the previous owner of the headwaters lot. Rather than push ahead with plans to construct a home on this property, he agreed to sell it to the consortium for permanent conservation. In partnering with us on this project, he demonstrated great patience and a commitment to achieve a “win-win’” outcome that will preserve a significant piece of our environment for future generations.

At a time when preserved open space is becoming increasingly vital, it is our hope that we can build on this successful model of public-private partnership to conserve other vulnerable wetlands and forest habitats in Princeton before they disappear.

Christopher Barr
Patricia Shanley
Ridgeview Conservancy
Ridgeview Road