John A. Phillips Open Space Preserve
Pleasant Valley Road, Old Bridge Township, Middlesex County
1728 acres; the County's largest contiguous holding in their park system.
Drive south on the New Jersey Turnpike and get off at exit 8A; turn left onto Forsgate Road; this road goes all the way to Thompson Park in the heart of the village of Jamesburg; turn right after passing the entrance to Thompson Park onto Route 522; almost immediately turn left onto Pergola Avenue; off Pergola Avenue take Matchaponix Avenue off to the right; turn left onto Spotswood-Englishtown Road; not quite immediately turn right onto Texas Road; cross over Matchaponix Brook bridge and turn left onto Old Bridge-Englishtown Road; drive 1.3 miles and turn right onto Pleasant Valley Road; drive 0.8 of a mile and turn right into a small pull-off. There are lots of old Private Property - No Trespassing signs, but here there is also a sign saying Middlesex County Parkland. So we decided to go ahead and walk the dirt road into the parcel of land.
The tract was once part of 2,500 acres formerly owned by Olympia & York, a now-bankrupt property developer.
2004 -- a recreational park of 100 acres, known as Phillips park,
will open. It is will take the land from the preserve. It is located
at the end of Maple Street in South Old Bridge.
Brief Biography of John A. "Jack" Phillips:
He lived in Laurence Harbor for 40 years.
World War II -- Phillips served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army.
1958-1962 -- served as a councilman in Old Bridge, which was then called Madison Township.
1960-1962 -- Phillips served as mayor.
1962 to 1982 -- he was a county freeholder.
1973-1983 -- he served as the board’s deputy director.
He was a founding member of the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh. He was also active in the township’s Little League and Pop Warner Football.
1984 -- John Phillips died.
Source: "Plethora of athletic fields to be located in new park; Groundbreaking expected in May; dedication set for summer 2004" by Sue M. Morgan, Staff Writer, March 6, 2003, http://suburban.gmnews.com/news/2003/0306/Front_page/026.html
wetlands, uplands, woods; the Iresick Brook and a tributary of the Barclay Brook (both of which enter the Matchaponix Brook, a major tributary of the South River).
4/17/04. Took the old dirt road south; the path turns left (southeast); the path turns right again and heads south to Texas Road. We did not see much water here compared to the two other places we had visited earlier in the day. At one point there was a small flow of water from one swampy area to another. The exposed ground area appeared very sandy. The walk was pretty short, but we could have taken some side paths off the main road, but did not.
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
date = date plant found in bloom
Acer rubrum (red maple) 4/17/04
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) 4/17/04 soon
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Lyonia ligustrina (maleberry)
Rhus sp. (sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) lots
Smilax sp. (greenbrier) all over the place
Vitis sp. (grape)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Potentilla sp. (cinquefoil)
Rushes and Sedges:
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) 4/19/97