(11/P147) TRENTON -- Working in partnership with the Township of Weehawken, Union City, the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, and the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, the Department of Environmental Protection today secured the preservation of a unique 14.4-acre reservoir near the Lincoln Tunnel, Commissioner Bob Martin announced.
"This opportunity reflects Governor Christie's commitment to the preservation of land through the Green Acres Program and the protection of water supplies through the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust," Commissioner Martin said.
"The agreement was made possible by the cooperation and vision of all the parties, who recognized and under an accelerated time frame acted upon a rare opportunity to permanently protect open space in the heart of one of the nation's most densely populated areas," the Commissioner added. "The people of Weehawken, Union City, Hudson County and the state will benefit greatly from the preservation of the Weehawken Reservoir for generations to come."
The parties today executed agreements to preserve the reservoir and surrounding land. Through a Memorandum of Agreement, Weehawken and Union City will establish a trail around the reservoir for passive recreation. The property, located just blocks from the Lincoln Tunnel, provides spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline.
United Water Co. had owned the reservoir but had not used it for many years. The reservoir, surrounded by a thin strip of land, is located in Weehawken, on the border with Union City. The municipalities are among the most densely populated in the nation.
Through its revolving loan program, the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust provided Weehawken with an $8.66 million low-interest loan. The loan was critical to making the agreement happen.
The DEP's Green Acres Program also provided a $2 million grant. Each of the municipalities provided $168,000. The Trust for Public Land played a major role in coordinating the purchase.
"Weehawken and Union City are densely populated, growing, and lacking options for new parks and open space, so this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new recreational amenity for this community," said Anthony Cucchi, New Jersey state director of The Trust for Public Land. "This project was complex and fast moving, but thanks to a concerted effort on the part of Weehawken, Union City, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and United Water, this urban community now has dedicated park space for generations to come."
"Commissioner Martin and the DEP really need to be commended for bringing all the parties together to protect this reservoir and land in one of the most densely populated parts of New Jersey and the nation," said David Zimmer, Executive Director of the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust.
The Green Acres Program has had a hand in protecting some 650,000 acres since the passage of the state's first Green Acres bond act in 1961.
"This is a perfect way to cap our year-long celebration of the anniversary of that first bond act, which launched New Jersey on a half-century of land preservation and established the state as a national leader in protecting open space and developing parks," said Richard Boornazian, Administrator of the Green Acres Program. "It's even most fitting that this purchase occurred in the heart of Hudson County. A great deal of credit must go to both Weehawken and Union City for making this happen."
"I am excited by the immeasurable potential of the reservoir project, which will offer more greenery and nature to residents of an urban setting," said Union City Mayor Brian Stack.
"This cooperative effort among the State of New Jersey, the Trust for Public Land, Union City, the Township of Weehawken and United Water preserves that largest remaining piece of open land in the upper portion of North Hudson County," said Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner. "This keeps a major piece of open space in a densely populated portion of the state available to the public, preserves the character of the surrounding neighborhoods and enhances the quality of life for everyone."
For more information on the Green Acres Program, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres/
For more information on the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, visit:www.njeit.org