On July 25th Mayor Steven Fulop confirmed that an agreement was in place for the Morris County Park Commission to develop and manage a trail around the Boonton Reservoir, which has been the primary water source for Jersey City since 1904. Fulop told the Daily Record that, "We've been working on this now for two years in Jersey City, and we're at a place where we think it will be in front of the council first week of September."
It is not clear who has been working on this deal for 2 years because key stakeholders like the people of Jersey City, the Jersey City Environmental Commission, and other community groups have not been engaged.
Although the Open Space Institute (OSI) has been engaged to conduct a study of the impacts to the reservoir, the study--if it has been completed--has not yet been released or reviewed by our Environmental Commission or the board of the Jersey City MUA. Despite this, the Mayor will be asking City Council to approve the deal that will allow recreational access for 40 years in exchange for only $1…!
Opening the reservoir area to recreational activities would require the construction of access roads, parking areas, pathways, etc., all of which would impact the already fragile and very limited protective vegetative cover. Runoff from rain and snow carries chemicals, sediments, pesticides, excess nutrients and many other pollutants from the land to the water. Maintaining a buffer strip of native vegetation along our reservoir plays an extremely important role in protecting water quality.
The native trees and plants around the reservoir minimize soil erosion and act as a filter that keeps contaminants from entering the water. Some areas along the Boonton Reservoir are highly susceptible to erosion and greatly depend on existing trees and plants to help minimize the rate of erosion. Any development of reservoir lands for trails, parking, or other recreational facilities will damage the ecosystems ability to protect our water supply, which may result in an increase in pollutants entering the reservoir and increased treatment costs.
A similar plan was dismissed after the terrorist attacks of September 2001 when it became clear that our water supply would be vulnerable if it were open to public access. Today, the risk of an intentional attack to compromise the water supply of the people of Jersey City still stands. Whether intentional or not, our water supply will be more vulnerable to further degradation if this plan proceeds.
We are asking that:
the Jersey City Environmental Commission be consulted on the proposal;
the MUA Board be consulted on the proposal, and charged with conducting their own review of the proposal;
the Open Space Institute study, if there is one, be released for public scrutiny;
a concerted set of public hearings be held, at which residents be both informed about the proposal, and be given every opportunity to provide input.
Please join us in ensuring that our water supply is protected by signing this Petition.