Pompton Lakes officials begin planning tract use - northjersey.com (5/17/06)

Jason

JORBA Board Member/Chapter Leader
JORBA.ORG
Pompton Lakes officials begin planning tract use
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

By ELAINE D'AURIZIO
STAFF WRITER


Borough officials are wasting no time in deciding how residents can best enjoy the 19.5 acres the town recently acquired in the south end of town.

A couple of Pompton Lakes officials met Tuesday afternoon with an assistant professor of architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark for possible guidance in developing a plan for uses of the wooded tract that was rescued from developers a few months ago.

"It's a blank canvas," said Councilman Marc Pardalis. "We have a million ideas and directions we want to go in and we're looking for guidance on what the best use of the property is going to be. We want passive recreation such as biking trails, walking trails, maybe some fishing spots along the river."

"A river walk would be wonderful," said Mayor John E. Murrin. "I'd like a section to be actually mapped out by our environmental officer to help educate our students about fauna, animals and environmental issues."

The important thing, said Murrin, is that "we will have no development in that area." In 1995, Murrin proposed seeking state Green Acres funds to help buy the site to "make sure a builder doesn't come in." But the council rejected that approach.

Then a civic group and some 200 residents protested and successfully stopped a developer's plans to build 700 housing units on the site, which lies in a flood zone, after it was flooded in 1999 by Tropical Storm Floyd.

Borough officials rejected the developer's request to rezone the site from conservation to residential. But their efforts to purchase the land from Leon Feinbloom, a local real estate agent, were thwarted. Feinbloom sold it two years ago to Helping People Help Themselves for $850,000, more than three times what the borough offered based on site appraisals.

But borough officials would not give up the fight for the land.

"It's now owned by and for the residents of Pompton Lakes," Murrin said. "Residents now have a valuable piece of property they will have input on in deciding the active and passive recreation that will take place there."

Residents and officials struggled for 10 years to preserve the wooded tract along the Pequannock River as open space before finally acquiring it last October for $965,000.

The town is paying no more than $400,000 for the tract, Murrin said. More than half of the purchase money was provided by state and county open space grants.

"We're applying for additional grants to offset the purchase price of the South End property," Murrin said.

The site, which is off Riverdale Boulevard in low lands, was purchased from a group that sought to construct a children's camp and a training track for all-terrain vehicles.

The borough is putting together a South End Committee to decide the best way to use the property.

"That will include representatives from the town's youth sports organizations, Recreation Committee, Open Space Committee and Environmental Committee," said Pardalis, who added he is very excited about plans for the tract.

And students from the New Jersey Institute of Technology -- who often get involved in municipal projects -- may be helping. An official said Tuesday's session was a "preliminary get-together" to decide if there is going to be any involvement.

"You know you are not going to be on the council forever and that you won't see the completion of many things you start," Pardalis said. "But you would like to see it started."

E-mail: daurizio@northjersey.com
 

mergs

Spokompton's Finest
JORBA.ORG
I'm in contact with a fellow named Sean Riley who is attempting to get trails developed there, as well as work towards maintaining Mountainside Park (mtb allowed, also in Pompton).

If anyone is local and wants to be involoved, kept in the loop on any progress, etc., PM me and I can get you in contact with Sean via email.
 
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