The Gloucester County Board of Freeholders has paid $1.2 million to purchase 35 acres of open space to add to a park in Monroe Township.
"The property will be added to the existing 36 acres of Owens Memorial Park, almost doubling the recreational space," said Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney. "This land will be dedicated to recreation for present and future generations."
The land, owned by the Joseph Genova family, was previously a soybean farm and more recently the Halloween-themed Jersey Devil Haunted Woods.
The county paid 75 percent of the cost, with Monroe contributing the rest. The county will seek reimbursement for half of its cost from the New Jersey Green Acres program, which promotes land preservation, according to a county news release.
Owens Memorial Park has ball fields, tennis and basketball courts, a skate park and hockey rinks, a playground and a running/walking track. The new addition will add frontage on Clayton-Williamstown Road, or County Route 610.
Future plans call for it to be used for an indoor recreation center, said Ken Atkinson, who heads the county Land Preservation Office.
Gloucester County has preserved approximately 14,500 acres, including 11,900 acres of farmland and 2,600 acres of open space, since the late 1990s. Atkinson's office is aiming to preserve at least another 250 acres by the end of the year.