The Star Ledger - Coalition preserves 52 acres in Ringwood

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Coalition preserves 52 acres in Ringwood
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
BY LAWRENCE RAGONESE
Star-Ledger Staff


A 52-acre Ringwood tract, with a stream flowing directly into the Wanaque reservoir, has been preserved by a new coalition of nonprofit, private and government groups, it was announced yesterday.

The parcel, located in the North Jersey Highlands preservation area in northern Passaic County, was purchased for $499,000 from Michael Raykov. It was part of a larger tract he had earmarked for development, said David Epstein, executive director of the Montville- based Morris Land Conservancy, which negotiated the deal.

"This was a tract that was not suitable for development at all, that could have had a direct and negative impact on water quality," said Epstein.

The primary objective of the new preservation partnership is to preserve the quality of drinking water at the Wanaque and Monk sville reservoirs and to develop a management plan to ensure permanent preservation and safe pub lic use of these lands, according to its members. Included are the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, United Water New Jersey, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and the Morris Land Conservancy.

Passaic County and the town of Ringwood also participated in the partnership's first purchase, contributing funds to preserve the property on Margaret King Avenue that will be added to Passaic Coun ty's Tranquility Ridge County Park.

"The acquisition of this 52-acre parcel of critical watershed land represents an important step toward assuring a sustainable source of safe, clean drinking water for ourselves and for future generations," said Ringwood Mayor Joanne Atlas.

In the deal, Passaic County contributed $250,000, the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission paid $100,000, United Water paid $100,000 and Ringwood chipped in $49,000, officials said.

"The state and Green Acres are looking at saving much larger tracts, so we are focusing on small properties, those 50- or 75-acre lands that also are important. That's our initial focus," said Ep stein.

The Wanaque/Monksville reservoir system is the state's single largest source of drinking water. But much of the watershed that flows into the reservoirs is in private ownership, subject to development for industrial, commercial and residential uses.

While the state's new Highlands rules will limit development in the region, it will not completely stop construction, stressed officials of the new partnership. Development of any significant portion of these properties could have a dramatic, long-term effect on the water quality, quantity and treatment ex penses of water in the Wanaque/ Monksville reservoir system, they said.

Lawrence Ragonese may be reached at lragonese@starledger.com or (973) 539-7910.
 
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