In December 2020, The Land Conservancy of New Jersey assisted the Township of Verona in acquiring two properties for preservation, totaling 22 acres—which is a big deal in Essex County, with its dense population and high property values.
While Verona and Essex County are home to established green spaces like Hilltop Park and Eagle Rock Reservation, finding new undeveloped land for public use is a big challenge. So acquiring 22 acres of forests and streams and saving them from development is a significant accomplishment.
One property is located on Mt. Prospect Avenue, adjacent to the Eagle Rock Reservation nature preserve, located along the Watchung Mountains ridge line. This acquisition adds 14 acres to the 400-acre preserve and is one of the last remaining large tracts of land in the township. The property consists of mature deciduous trees and a small area of riverine wetlands, which are the headwaters to the Peckman River. There is an informal trail that crosses the stream and leads to the reservation’s 1.6 mile red trail. This property is a great asset for Verona residents, providing hiking and birdwatching opportunities.
The second property is 12 acres off Commerce Court, nestled in a residential neighborhood. The Peckman River flows along the western edge of this land, which is a mix of upland forest and meadow. The township plans on vacating the Commerce Court cul-de-sac area and redeveloping the area for passive recreational uses.
Verona’s Township Manager Matthew Cavallo says, “We know that green spaces improve the quality of life for people who live and work in this community, so acquiring these properties was worth all of the hard work. And we could not have done it without the expertise of The Land Conservancy team.”
TLCNJ’s Land Preservation Specialist Linda Gloshinski says, “This was our first land preservation project with the Township, and it was a big one! Being an Essex County native, I understand the value of open space in your neighborhood. It was very rewarding to preserve over 22 acres in Verona Township that will benefit the community for years to come.”
The Land Conservancy of New Jersey is a member-supported, non-profit, accredited land trust dedicated to preserving and protecting natural land and water resources throughout the State. Originally founded as an all-volunteer group in 1981 the organization has worked with 100 municipalities in 13 counties and continues to be recognized for meeting the highest standards for protecting open space, upholding the public trust, and ensuring that their conservation efforts are permanent.
For more information about the work of The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, visit their website www.tlc-nj.org or call (973) 541-1010.