Property Added to South Branch Greenway
A Nov. 12 closing was held on a 3.68-acre parcel of land where a popular flea market once operated.
The property was subdivided and a 2.8-acre parcel was deeded to the Somerset County Open Space Preservation Program; the other parcel containing a little less than an acre was deeded to Branchburg Township.
Located at the intersection of Main Street and Elm Street in the Neshanic Station section of Branchburg Township, the property is the site of the former Neshanic Flea Market. The county and township partnered to purchase the property from the estate of Mary Stone Weiss for $350,000 with each entity contributing half of the purchase price. The county acquired the vacant portion of the property while the township acquired the parcel containing the residence.
“This is a key addition to the county’s expanding South Branch Greenway,” said Freeholder Brian G. Gallagher, county open space liaison. “The preservation of this property will provide parking for fishermen and will ultimately serve as a trail head for the trail network being developed along the South Branch of the Raritan River.
“The acquisition of the Weiss property is another in a long line of successful partnerships between Somerset County and its municipalities,” he said. “Preservation projects such as this could not be accomplished without the groups working together to contribute resources and funding toward the common goal of preserving the rich cultural, environmental and recreational character of Somerset County.”
The property was operated as the Neshanic Flea Market by Weiss and her family since the 1970s and was a popular weekend destination for treasure hunters and those looking to enjoy the scenic Somerset County countryside. The 19th-century Italianate residence served as the family home and contained a snack bar for the flea market. Branchburg Township had the foresight to preserve the historic character of Neshanic Station and will ensure that the residence remains and is restored.
"The township is very concerned with preserving our historic homes and the character of our villages,” said Branchburg Mayor James Schworn. “With the help of the county, the township has acquired this home with the intent it be auctioned to the highest bidder and used as a single-family residence. The home will come with a deed restriction that will require the exterior be maintained with the historic character it has now.
“Through this county/township partnership, will we preserve a historic house, create a walking path for the enjoyment of county residents while also offsetting the cost of the acquisition,” the mayor said. “A win-win for all."
The South Branch Greenway is a long-term county greenway initiative intended to create a continuous open space network along the South Branch of the Raritan River. This network will link to other portions of the Somerset County park system and provide connections to local open space initiatives within the county. The greenway ultimately will extend from the confluence of the North Branch and Main Branch of the Raritan River to the border of Hunterdon County.
Somerset County began the preservation of the South Branch Greenway in Hillsborough and Branchburg in the mid-1990s. With the addition of the Weiss property, the greenway now exceeds 670 acres.