Twenty-Five years ago, two small linear-shaped lots were donated to Hillsborough Township for the purpose of road construction. The properties, along the old Central Railroad of NJ right-of-way in the vicinity of Auten, Valley, and Roycefield Roads, were on the agenda at a recent township committee meeting after it was discovered that the two parcels were mistakenly included in Hillsborough's Recreation and Open Space Inventory (ROSI). A public hearing was held on the proposal to remove block 143 lots 11.03 and 7.19 from the ROSI.
All of which begs the question -what road construction project was envisioned in 1985?
The news outlets all reported these two lots as being located "along Auten Road", and as being intended for "road widening". Clearly that is not the case. The lots are NOT along Auten or any other road. They are landlocked parcels in a commercial and industrial zone, north of Valley Road, between Auten and Roycefield.
It is my opinion that the two properties were acquired in anticipation of a NEW road, perhaps something like this:
View "New" New Center Rd. in a larger map
[The two lots in question appear as a darker blue line in the map]
This route would be a new alignment of New Center Road, past the intersection with Auten Road, eastward along the abandoned Central Railroad of New Jersey right-of-way, crossing Roycefield Road, and then more directly east, skirting the southern boundary of Duke Farms, before intersecting Route 206 at Brook Boulevard.
Would a plan like this be feasible now, twenty-five years later? It is no secret that Duke Farms' ambitious plans for a transformation of the Doris Duke Estate into an environmental center and park - including turning the farm barn south of Dukes Parkway into a new visitors' center - would benefit from making use of Dukes Parkway as a de facto entrance road, for no other reason than visitors will have to cross Dukes Parkway to access the bulk of the property after parking at the visitors' center.
Somerset County already owns some of the property in the vicinity of Roycefield Road, and with the mercury now gone from the South Somerville Depot, there may be a future opportunity for more land acquisition nearby. A new road providing access through this area could be useful.
Just something to consider.