Montgomery Opens Newest Park: Zion Crossing

Montgomery Opens Newest Park: Zion Crossing

Posted on May 29, 2019

On May 20th, Montgomery Township and the Montgomery Friends of Open Space (MFOS) officially opened Zion Crossing, a seven-acre passive recreation park in the Sourlands.  Mayor Sadaf Jaffer and Committeeperson Marvin Schuldiner cut the ribbon to mark this achievement by many cooperating individuals and organizations.

The park includes a section of the Rock Brook with a picturesque waterfall.  It is adjacent to other recent open space acquisitions along Rock Brook, and open space in Hillsborough Township.  Improvements include a trail, a small parking area, a metal picnic table and chairs, and an informational kiosk and road signage.  The park has been developed in part through a grant procured by MFOS, a girl-scout volunteer/project organizer, and much assistance from volunteers and the Montgomery Twp. Dept. of Public Works. (LINK TO MAP)

“This was truly a collaborative process, and the property shines now because of all those who put in the time and effort to make it happen” said Mayor Sadaf Jaffer at the ribbon cutting.

Committeeperson Marvin Schuldiner added, “This is such a beautiful addition to Montgomery’s parks for everyone to enjoy.  Thank you to all the groups and people who contributed to this project and made it happen.”

Montgomery Twp. Open Space Coordinator Lauren Wasilauski credited the following individuals and groups for acquiring the property, adding amenities, and fulfilling the vision of this new park for the public’s use:

Township Officials:  For valuing open space and the Township’s environment, and continuing a history of preservation and protection to ensure that this Township is special for future generations of residents.

Montgomery Friends of Open Space: For facilitating the acquisition of the property, contributing the kiosk through procuring a Franklin Parker grant from NJ Conservation Foundation, for donating the bench, and for contributing other volunteer time toward improving the property.

Girl Scout Kyra Coleman:  For seeing a diamond in the rough, and supporting the vision to make this property a destination. She created the pathway, researched the content of the interpretive sign, and contributed numerous volunteer hours toward improving the property.

D & R Greenway: For contributing to the purchase of the property in 2015.

Sourland Conservancy:  For hosting volunteer work days to remove debris, cutting English ivy and removing other invasive plant species.

Sourland Cycles: For donating the bicycle rack and helping to spread awareness of this property.

Open Space Committee:  For advocating for the Township to acquire the property, and then later helping to develop an overall plan for the property.

Open Space Volunteers: For coming out and rolling up their sleeves, cutting vines, raking leaves, and otherwise grooming the new park.

Montgomery Dept. of Public Works:  For creating the parking area, installing the kiosk & bench (a challenge with the hard shale & rock outcroppings), bringing over the picnic table, and sprucing it up before today’s event.

The new park property was purchased in 2015 by MFOS, D&R Greenway, and Montgomery Township for $360,000.  It is co-managed by the Township & MFOS.

“MFOS was pleased to assist the Township to purchase and improve this little gem of a park tucked away in the Sourlands,” said Montgomery Friends President Jack Roberts.

The Zion Crossing property has an interesting past, which is somewhat unexpected given its forested appearance today. The Zion Crossing property is so named because this area of the Sourlands was known as the village of Zion, which was a hub of industry.  In the 1800s, the population in and around the Sourlands increased, particularly along rivers and streams, as settlers harnessed water power to operate mills.  Research hasn’t turned up any information of a mill on this particular property, but timber harvesting, pottery, and quarrying were the other main industries of the time.  There was a post office, general store, and numerous other businesses in the village.  As late as 1940, there was a gas station and garage on the property. It later transitioned to residential use, and then to parkland in 2015.

Montgomery Friends of Open Space (MFOS) was formed in 2002 in an effort to preserve the Township’s farmland and natural areas. MFOS is an all-volunteer non-profit organization made up primarily of residents of Montgomery Township and Rocky Hill. The organization’s purpose is threefold: 1.) To preserve remaining open lands in Montgomery Township, 2.) To provide and support stewardship of the land that is preserved, 3.) To sustain active farming by increasing awareness of agricultural issues and supporting local farmers’ markets and farm stands in the Township.

The much-anticipated official opening of Zion Crossing, a new park on Hollow Road was marked Mon., May 20 by a ribbon cutting ceremony.  Doing the honors were Montgomery Twp. Mayor Sadaf Jaffer and Committee person Marvin Schuldiner (center).  Many hands made this park a reality.  Represented at the opening were (l to r): Mark Zondlo, Montgomery Friends of Open Space Stewardship Chairperson; Laurie Cleveland, Sourland Conservancy; Kyra Coleman, Girl Scout Volunteer; Allan Bien (behind mayor), MFOS Board member, Reed Chapman, Open Space Volunteer; Maxine Baicker, MFOS Board member; Tammy Garaffa, MFOS Secretary; Lauren Wasilauski, Montgomery Twp. Open Space Coord.; Jack Roberts, MFOS President; Marty Elliott, MFOS Treasurer; and Clem Fiori, Montgomery Twp. Open Space Com. Chairperson.  A number of celebrants biked to the park to emphasize its suitability as a destination and respite for cyclers in the Sourlands.