NJ town looks to save historic Big Bang antenna site for $1.9M
📡 Holmdel is one vote away from taking over the famous Horn Antenna, a historic landmark
📡 The site is owned by a private developer and there is concern it could face redevelopment
📡 The developer previously insisted the site was never at risk
HOLMDEL — The home of a national historic landmark that helped scientists to confirm the existence of the Big Bang may become public land as concerned residents look to save it from redevelopment.
In 1965, scientists used the Holmdel Horn Antenna on Crawford Hill to discover cosmic microwave background radiation to confirm the theory explaining the origins of the universe. Today, the site is owned by private developer Crawford Hill Holdings.
Earlier this year, a local citizens group said it obtained concept plans from the developer to relocate the antenna. The Horn would be moved across the property and replaced with nearly 90 townhomes, Julie Roth, president of Citizens for Informed Land Use, said in May.
After an uproar from Holmdel residents, the township committee voted unanimously to pass one resolution and introduce two ordinances to move forward with purchasing part of the site. The votes authorized negotiations to use township funds to acquire 34 acres of the 42-acre property for open space and historic preservation.
An appraisal put the value of the properties at $1.92 million, Mayor Domenico "DJ" Luccarelli said Tuesday night. He said the town could approve the use of eminent domain if "good faith negotiations" to purchase the site fail.
"I'm excited that we are taking further steps towards preserving the Crawford Hill property and the Horn antenna. Holmdel voters overwhelmingly supported increasing funding to the trust fund. As mayor, I look forward to responsibly using the trust fund to complete historic property acquisition that would benefit Holmdel for generations to come," Luccarelli said.
But Rakesh Antala, owner of Crawford Hill Holdings, previously said that the Horn was never at risk and that the public's concerns were the result of "misinformation." The site would remain open to the public, Antala said to NJ.com.
The fight over Crawford Hill has drawn the attention of local representatives including state Sen. Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth.
“The Horn Antenna was crucial in helping us to understand how the universe began,” said O’Scanlon. “I fully support Holmdel’s effort to acquire the property where it resides and to preserve it for future generations."
A special public meeting will be held on Aug. 22 before a final vote is held.