July 14, 2023

Fight to save NJ’s Revolutionary War sites could gain strength from new grant program

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Alex Sauickie has introduced a measure that would create a grant program to save Revolutionary War sites under threat of development.

“New Jersey, which is known as the “Crossroads of the American Revolution,” played too pivotal a role in our nation’s fight for independence to put profits over preservation,” Sauickie (R-Ocean) said.

Because of New Jersey’s location between Philadelphia and New York, the state was the setting for more Revolutionary War battles and skirmishes than anywhere else.

“The fate of America was decided in several significant battles on New Jersey soil. Every effort must be made to preserve as much of that history as possible for future generations,” Sauickie continued.

The site of a Revolutionary War skirmish in Allentown and Upper Freehold, which was critical in helping George Washington plan the Battle of Monmouth, could soon be home to two giant warehouses. Once an encampment of Redcoats, the 66 acres looks like it did in 1778, but developers who purchased it have plans to transform it into storage facilities with more than 100 loading docks for the hundreds of trucks that will come through.

As residents look for ways to save the site, Sauickie saw an opportunity to create a state grant program that would allow local governments and nonprofits to preserve Revolutionary War battlefields, encampments and skirmish sites in New Jersey. Under the proposal, the State Department would award grants to towns and organizations to save Revolutionary War sites that are endangered by development.

“We are three short years away from celebrating our nation’s 250th birthday. To lose a part of our American Revolution history now to storage facilities that could be located elsewhere would be devastating,” Sauickie added. “Hoping that historical preservation prevails in this fight is not enough. We must support the people and towns that put in the work to save the sites and stories that make us Americans. This grant program is a way to bolster their tireless efforts.”

The bill (A5677) has been referred to the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee.