PARSIPPANY — A 40-year lease will allow for the creation of a walking trail around the Boonton Reservoir in Parsippany was approved by the Jersey City Council on Wednesday, September 26. The reservoir is fed by the Rockaway River opened in 1904 to provide Jersey City with drinking water.
The reservoir is located in Parsippany and Boonton, just northeast of where Routes 46 and 287 intersect. The water accounts for about 900 acres of the property.
Fishing, boating and swimming in the reservoir would remain prohibited.
The council voted 7-2 to approve the lease, with council members Michael Yun and James Solomon voting no.
Jersey City Councilman Daniel Rivera was joined by Parsippany-Troy Hills Mayor Michael Soriano in consultation with the Open Space Institute (OSI), the Jersey City Environmental Commission (JCEC) to sign an ordinance creating a plan focusing on the protection and safety of the Boonton Reservoir, as the area opens to the public with walking trails. Through Jersey City Ordinance 18-04, a master plan will be created to maintain the quality of the water for drinking purposes while providing security to the area for the first time.
“Our administration has been working hard with OSI, JCEC and the towns surrounding the reservoir, Parsippany and Boonton, to ensure that the water from the Boonton Reservoir will remain protected, finding ways to increase water quality and secure access as we look to create walking trails,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “Increasing quality to the environment and to the drinking water is of top priority, but this plan additionally provides our Jersey City students a new opportunity to understand how the facility works on future educational field trips,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop.
The Open Space Institute will study and assess the land to create a plan, including educational components. The administration will also work the Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Department and Morris County Park Patrol to enhance security in and around the reservoir area.
“The Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Project establishes long-term strategies to ensure the families of Jersey City maintain access to safe, reliable drinking water, while expanding passive recreational opportunities,” said Terrence Nolan, OSI Senior Vice President. “In addition to employing natural, land-based solutions to address problems such as storm water runoff, OSI looks forward to working with our partners in pursuit of potential land conservation projects throughout the Rockaway River watershed to protect water sources now and for future generations.”
“Having an active recreational facility on site would require regular maintenance and supervision, overall increasing security measures around the reservoir, where there is currently none in place,” said Fulop. “The OSI will create a plan that aims to preserve the environmental integrity of the entire area.
“I am so excited to live in a place with such a gem of nature. To make this accessible to the public gives Parsippany another reason to be the #1 place to be,” said Parsippany Councilwoman Emily Peterson.
The agreement for the 1,300-acre reservoir site, will span 40 years at a cost of $1. The Boonton Reservoir has been Jersey City’s primary water source since 1904. The lease requires the creation of a property management plan, one that local environmental advocates wanted so they and others would have input on the creation of the 7.5-mile trail. If the plan is not created within two years, the lease will be terminated.