Franklin Lakes July 15, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 7 Borough officials set plan for Haledon Reservoir by Frank J. McMahon A recent joint meeting of the Franklin Lakes Haledon Reservoir Executive and Advisory committees resulted in a plan for the reservoir that will serve as the basis for local and county grant applications. During the joint meeting, Mayor Maura DeNicola explained that the borough was legally obligated to provide some level of access to the property and that both committees were considering how to implement that access to the reservoir. The committees outlined the following course of action for use of the reservoir as soon as it is feasible. The use of the property would be limited to walking and fishing in designated areas to be defined during a site visit, and the walking and fishing areas would be designated with signs. The borough will implement a fishing permit process by ordinance with a permit fee of $20 annually and the applicant would be required to meet the same requirements as needed for a state fishing license. Permits would be administered in the borough clerk’s office. The name of the property, if legally permissible, will be designated the “Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve.” Passaic County Open Space grants will be sought to improve the parking area and to repair, patch and stripe it and to provide safe vehicular access to the parking area, including improved drainage. In addition, the trailhead will be defined with the grant money and there will be appropriate signs for the trailhead, including the information about the hours of use. The grants will also permit portable toilets in the parking area, and benches and garbage containers in parking area. Bergen County Open Space grants will be sought to improve the trails for safe pedestrian traffic up to the area where trail is somewhat defined including drainage improvements. The grants will help to pay for trail signs and to define the fishing areas and for signs for educational purposes regarding the plants, flowers, vegetation, and animal life in the area. These grants will also fund the purchase of portable toilets, benches, and garbage containers. The 143-acre property has a 70-acre lake with 122 acres situated within the borough and 21 acres located within the Borough of North Haledon, which previously used the reservoir for drinking water. The property was zoned R-40 residential at the time of the purchase. The property was originally 149 acres, but a 5.3-acre portion of the site was not included in the sale because it was learned during a title search that it was owned by the High Mountain Golf Club and not the Borough of Haledon, the previous owner of the reservoir. Haledon approved the sale of the reservoir in March 2005. In May of that year, after two years of negotiations, five of the six members of the Franklin Lakes Borough Council, including DeNicola who was a councilwoman at the time, voted in favor of the $6.5 million contract to purchase the property. Councilwoman Paulette Ramsey voted against the move, saying the purchase of the reservoir would result in the potential loss of tax revenue to the borough and that the cost to maintain the property was unknown. In November 2005, DeNicola joined Ramsey in voting against a resolution to amend the borough’s capital budget to fund the reservoir and the introduction of a bond ordinance to increase the amount of bonds or notes to be issued to finance the acquisition of the reservoir. Ramsey explained her vote, saying the borough could be risking its AAA bond rating by taking on more debt. DeNicola explained that she felt there were too many questions to be answered before the borough took on such a financial burden. She also wanted an assessment of the cost to maintain and develop the property to state standards and to understand the implications of the open access of the property to non-borough residents. In December 2005, the council adopted the ordinance authorizing the issuance of $3,570,000 in bonds or notes to finance the purchase of the reservoir pending the receipt of the grant money from the state, which was not expected until after the closing of the title on the property. DeNicola again joined Ramsey in voting against that bond ordinance while the other four council members voted for it. In May 2006, former Councilman Russell Schroeder, who along with former Mayor G. Thomas Donch led the effort to purchase the reservoir property, addressed the council at a public meeting and emphasized that the borough would receive a $3 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Division and a $2 million open space grant from Bergen County to fund the purchase and use $1.5 million in borough funds which would result in a cost to the borough of about $10,000 per acre. He also pointed out that if Haledon sold the property to a commercial developer, as had been rumored, it might be developed for single family houses or apartments for affordable housing. The next month, DeNicola defeated Donch in the borough’s mayoral primary election, during which she indicated that she would have preferred a referendum seeking voter approval of costly projects such as the purchase of the reservoir and the installation of a sewer system in the borough. The borough closed on the purchase of the reservoir in August 2006 after Haledon agreed to put $350,000 in escrow to pay for the cleanup of the property. Sign Up For Our A Now -T Look Grea eam t 12 Weeks In Full fitness studio that provides personal, partner & group training THE A-TEAM RECESSION BOOT CAMP WORKSHOPS 3 Months for $450 Reduced to Space is limited $350 With Coupon • Exp. 8-15-09 795 Franklin Avenue, Franklin Lakes • 201-485-7640 • (C) 973-943-7988 Summer specials available now for a limited time only. Call Robin at 973-636-7000 7-15-09 janine FitFactor3x3(7-15-09) 3 x 3” Serving Northern New Jersey LICENSED BY THE NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION LIC# 29703 MIDLAND PARK, NJ – 201.988.5428 6-17-09 karen/janine VanDyk3x6C(6-17-09)