Letter to the Editor: Esther Yanai Preserve another wonderful public-private partnership

Pictured from left to right are Councilman Mike Locatell, Councilwoman Victoria Napolitano, Steven Yanai and Deputy Mayor Nicole Gillespie.Edi

I recently had the pleasure of participating in the dedication ceremony for the new parking facilities at Esther Yanai Preserve located on Garwood Road along with fellow Counci lmembers Mike Locatell and Nicole Gillespie, Deputy Township Manager Tom Merchel, members of Save the Environment Moorestown (STEM) and the Yanai family. 

This project was discussed and evaluated by the Open Space Advisory Committee, spearheaded by committee member Steward “Gub” Maines. Gub worked closely with Mr. Merchel and Director of Public Works Doug Nims, with guidance from Joe Ponessa of STEM. The construction was funded by a generous donation by Esther Yanai’s husband, Steven and facilitated by STEM. The site now boasts six parking spots, including a handicapped spot. In the next round of township road work, we will further enhance this space by widening and repaving the culvert at the entrance to the site.

We now have a township-owned open space, named after a founding member of STEM, which is vastly more accessible to all of our residents thanks to design and construction enabled by a township committee and staff, all funded by a private citizen thanks to STEM’s coordination. This is a wonderful public-private partnership, and yet another example of the way that Moorestonians time and again come together to better our township to the benefit of our whole community. 

I’m proud to see this project, which began moving forward in earnest two years ago, come to fruition. I hope that you and your family will take advantage of this new facility and explore the local natural gem that is Esther Yanai Preserve. If you are interested in learning more about our township’s open spaces and getting involved, attend an Open Space Advisory Committee or join STEM at stemonline.org.

Victoria Napolitano