Jersey City, Parsippany-Troy Hills officials announce public access to Boonton reservoir

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Jersey City and Parsippany Troy Hills officials, as well as environmental activists, heralded a new agreement that will allow the public to access trails at the Boonton reservoir during a press conference yesterday.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop signed the ordinance to open up the Boonton Reservoir that was approved 8 to 1 by the city council at Wednesday evening’s meeting.

He was scheduled to attend the press conference, along with Parsippany-Troy Hills Mayor Michael Soriano, but due to an emergency was unable to make it.

In his stead, Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera spoke about how the new agreement for the 1,300-acre reservoir site will ensure that water from the Boonton Reservoir will remain protected and provide opportunities for residents in townships near the reservoir to enjoy open space.

“This is an amazing place. Jersey City residents will have enhanced water quality, and residents in the surrounding towns will be able to enjoy the paths and trails that I’m looking forward to walking soon,” said Rivera.

According to a statement from the mayor’s office, the Open Space Institute will be tasked with creating a master plan to maintain the quality of the water and providing security to the area for the first time.

Terrence G. Nolan, OSI’s Senior Vice President, told Hudson County View during a question and answer after the press conference the length and route of the hiking trail system that will encircle the reservoir.

“The existing trail, which is not open to the public, but hopefully will be in the first phase, is about 3.2 miles and that proceeds southerly and comes around to the bottom of the reservoir,” he began.

“And then we’ll work on phase two, which is the construction of a nature trail on the west side, the entire length being about seven miles. So it’ll be where there is no opportunity now, an opportunity to get to nearly seven miles of trail for the 15,000 people that live within just a few minutes of this place.”

We followed-up to ask Nolan about how will the institute work to ensure that refuse and waste doesn’t contaminate the quality of drinking water for Jersey City residents.

“Two things happening there: Morris County Park Commission, which really runs world-class county parks, which will essentially have rangers that will patrol. Morris County Park Police will also have a stake in this, and now Parsippany Police will [be involved in patrolling and securing the area for the first time],” he explained.

“It might seem like a contradiction, but more eyes and ears, more people friendly to this place to keep an eye on it results in a cleaner landscape, a more secure reservoir if it’s managed the right way. And the Morris County Park Commission is a $30 million annual operating budget for that purpose. This is going to be a premiere space for them, they’re going to invest in it.”