Montgomery Township preserves two Sourland properties along Rock Brook Greenway

Montgomery Township will preserve two properties in the ecologically sensitive Sourland Mountain region to expand the Rock Brook Greenway.

“Our concept of a greenway to protect Montgomery’s highest quality waterway is taking further shape with these two parcels we’ve now added,” Mayor Mark Conforti said.

The Montgomery Township Committee approved the purchase of a property on Dutchtown-Zion Road last week. This six-acre property will be purchased from DriftBuilt, LLC & Thomas Picone, who planned to develop the land. The purchase price is $270,000. The closing is expected to take place in the early fall, officials said.

Montgomery Township bought five acres of woodland adjacent to the Dutchtown-Zion Road property from the Tarzia family this spring for $267,500. The purchase was paid for with money from the municipality’s open space fund.

The two parcels are located next to 300 acres of other Montgomery, Hillsborough and Somerset County-owned open space. The new properties will expand the township’s Rock Brook Greenway project area. Rock Brook, with headwaters in the Sourlands, is Montgomery’s highest quality stream, officials said.

“Considering the prevalence of open space surrounding these lots and proximity to the fragile Rock Brook corridor, their inclusion in our open space inventory makes perfect sense,” Deputy Mayor Christine Madrid said.

The properties possibly could be used for passive recreation, officials said. Girl Scouts, in cooperation with the Montgomery Friends of Open Space, created a trail at the adjacent Zion Crossing property at the north end of Hollow Road in 2015. The Township’s Public Works Department then created a small parking area, and added a picnic table. The Township plans to connect the new properties to the existing trail, with a long-range goal of creating a pathway down Rock Brook all the way to Skillman Park.