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Gusciora Calls for Halt of Plan to Destroy Historic Revolutionary War Battlefield

‘The role it played in the foundation of American democracy is undeniable.

(TRENTON) — Assembly Deputy Majority Leader Reed Gusciora on Friday denounced a plan for construction on a local historic site and called for the Department of Environmental Protection to prohibit the project.

“New Jersey — and particularly Mercer County — served as locations for some of the pivotal moments of the American Revolution,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Whether it be Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, the historic defeat of the Hessian Garrison at the Battle of Trenton or the unexpected, last-minute victory over British troops at Princeton, the historical significance of the area, and the role it played in the foundation and persistence of American democracy, is undeniable.”

The Institute for Advanced Study, a Princeton-based private academic institution, has proposed a $2.5 million project that would require excavating the site where the Battle of Princeton occurred in advance of building faculty housing. Newly discovered wetlands on the site, however, may make it eligible for state and federal protections that would require a historical survey and analysis prior to any construction. In a letter to DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, Gusciora requested a stay of wetlands permits under which IAS plans to begin construction.

The proposed site of construction, considered one of the nation’s most endangered historic sites by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was the location of the first battlefield death of a Marine during the Revolutionary War, Gusciora noted. The Battle of Princeton also marked the first combat engagement of African-American troops.

“Construction on the battlefield is unnecessary and would damage the historic value of the location, the historic prestige of the town and the delicate ecosystem which supports the area,” said Gusciora. “A stay will allow the courts to resolve this matter without the threat of imminent destruction of the historic landmark and its environmentally sensitive wetlands.”

Gusciora also noted that the Civil War Trust has offered the state $4.5 million to purchase the site of the Battle of Princeton.

A copy of Gusciora’s letter is here.