The History of the Black Run Preserve leading to the formation of the Friends of the Black Run Preserve
by John Volpa, Chair of Friends of the Black Run Preserve
July 19, 2004: Evesham Township Environmental Commissioner John Volpa proposes “to utilize the Aerohaven and Hamilton-Georgetown properties (Township open space purchased with Green Acres funds) for passive recreation and education” to the Environmental Commission and receives 100% endorsement. Invitation sent to Mayor and Council to attend a presentation of the proposal.
October 18, 2004: Commissioner Volpa gives a slide presentation and written summary of the Environmental Commission’s proposals for the clean up, preservation and uses of the Aerohaven and Hamilton-Georgetown properties to the Evesham Township Mayor Gus Tamburro, the Assistant Director of Community Development, and representatives of the Evesham Municipal Utilities Authority.
January 6, 2006: Township Manager Sasdelli supports the proposal and states, “I am pleased to inform you that we recently finalized an agreement to purchase 722 acres immediately contiguous to Aerohaven. I am sure that many of your recommendations could apply there as well.”
January 12, 2006: Commissioner Volpa gives his presentation to Mr. William Cromie, Deputy Township Manager and Mr. Pat Haynes, Director of Parks and Recreation. Mr. Cromie expresses support of the proposal and names Mr. Haynes to be the Township lead on this project. Mr. Haynes decides to bring the proposal to the Evesham Recreation Advisory Committee.
July 26, 2006: Commissioner Volpa gives his presentation to the Evesham Recreation Advisory Committee. By a unanimous vote, the Recreation Advisory Committee “supports and endorses the idea of developing Aerohaven and Hamilton-Georgetown area for passive recreation and township schools utilizing the property.”
August 21, 2006: Environmental Commission Chairman Gary Toothman writes to Evesham Mayor and Council, “We respectfully request that the proposal be endorsed by council.”
September 19, 2006: Evesham Township Council holds a work session discussion and public endorsement of the proposal.
October 3, 2006: During the October 3, 2006 Township Council meeting, permission is granted to form a subcommittee comprised of Environmental Commission members and Recreation Advisory Committee members. The proposal includes Aerohaven, Hamilton-Georgetown, and Kings Grant Phase II open space properties. The subcommittee is formed in November 2006.
February – June 2007: The Subcommittee meets on February 21, 2007, March 21, 2007, April 18, 2007, and June 20, 2007 and develops a name for the project, a mission statement, goals and objectives. The Subcommittee generates a list of questions for the Township Manager and letters explaining the project to the Evesham and Lenape School Districts.
September 2008: The Environmental Commission, working with the Township Manager Tom Czerniecki, receives a grant to hire the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to assist in conducting and writing an Environmental Resource Inventory (ERI) and an Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP).
July 2009: A local business, REI, provides a grant to the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) to run a week-long workshop for Evesham and Cherokee High School teachers and students to learn about the Pine Barrens and utilize the Black Run Preserve as a learning laboratory, incorporating local environmental issues with their subject matter while promoting community awareness and involvement. The Environmental Resource Inventory (ERI) is completed and copies given to the attendees of PPA’s Summer Teacher’s Institute workshop that focused on the Black Run Preserve. This Black Run Team formulates a plan for the coming school year.
July 2009: Utilizing a grant, Evesham Township officials and business leaders conduct a community-wide “visioning” event (Visioning 20/20) in order to identify what township citizens would like to see happen with their open space and downtown business district.
February 2010: The Visioning 20/20 report identifies the public’s desire for hiking and biking trails in the Black Run Preserve and adding to this open space.
Fall 2010-2011: PPA conducts two more Summer Teacher Institutes for Evesham and Cherokee teachers. The Black Run Team leads public hikes, clean-ups, and school field trips in the Black Run Preserve. DeMasi Middle School students remove discarded tires from the Preserve. (Over 600 tires have been removed since 2010.)
December 2012: The Open Space Recreation Plan (OSRP) is completed and becomes part of Evesham Township’s Master Plan. It recommends the formation of a Friends group to support the Black Run Preserve.
May 2013: Volunteers meet to form The Friends of the Black Run Preserve (FBRP), develop a Mission Statement and bylaws, and apply for non-profit(501(c)(3)) status.
June 1, 2013: FBRP conducts guided hikes in the Preserve during a Community Day event on June 1st, celebrating National Trails Day.
October 2013: Utilizing two grants, the FBRP and the Evesham Environmental Commission conduct a Visioning Event to obtain public input for the development of a Concept/Master Plan for the Black Run Preserve.
July 2014: FBRP receives a second REI Community Grant that will be used to improve signage and build new trails as per the Concept Plan. FBRP continues to raise awareness of the economic value, public health value, and ecological value inherent in this special sub-watershed.