WEST ORANGE, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. announced this week that the county has made an offer to purchase Rock Spring Country Club, a 168-acre site in West Orange that is currently up for sale. As the property is located next to South Mountain Reservation, DiVincenzo said it “should be preserved for open space and recreation instead of being developed.”

“The county executive is very interested in preserving the country club property for open space and recreation uses,” said Anthony Puglisi, director of Essex County’s public information office. “He is against any development from occurring on the property. The property is adjacent to South Mountain Reservation, so it makes sense to keep it for open space since it’s already next to a park.”

The Rock Spring Country Club and Montclair Golf Club, two private golf courses located in West Orange, merged in 2016 to become the Montclair Golf Club at Rock Spring. The 168 acres have been the subject of debate regarding whether the land should be put out to bid for potential developers, or be protected and persevered as open space within the community.

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“The township has been closely monitoring this situation and is in close contact with the owners of the property,” Mayor Robert Parisi said in response to the county’s offer. “We will continue to stay involved and remain hopeful that some plan will be worked out to preserve as much of the property as possible.”

Many community members have reacted to the county’s offer by sharing their opinions under DiVincenzo’s Facebook post announcing the county’s intentions for this property, with the majority of comments being in support of the measure. One commenter even called DiVincenzo the “Teddy Roosevelt of Essex County.”

“West Orange especially and Essex County desperately needs to persevere open space,” said Carol Selman. “Developing this area would cost the township huge money, not to mention the roads cannot support more housing there.”

Lois Reichert further supported the move, saying, “Fingers crosses Joe D!! We don’t need more housing, condos, etc. in West Orange!!!”

In addition to the outpouring of approval on Facebook, comments also included a desire to keep the space functioning as a golf course if the county succeeds in purchasing the property.

“Honestly, if they kept it as a golf [course] it would immediately become one of the top public courses in the state,” said LMANI S. Viney. “In addition, there’s enough space for kids to learn as well as for teaching tennis and having fundraising events and non-profit programs.”

The Montclair Golf Club at Rock Springs is a private golf course opened in 1927. It has hosted many tournaments, including the New Jersey State Open, state PGA and USGA qualifying events among other events, according to its website.

Since the merger, the club has had nearly 1,000 members and has worked toward becoming the premier family-oriented golf club in northern New Jersey.