The city will now submit an application to the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund for a feasibility and engineering study of the 13-acre property off Summit Avenue.
City Council President Mariano Vega explained at Wednesday's council meeting that the study was to look at the stability of the walls surrounding the reservoir and determine if the reservoir is truly environmental wetlands as has been stated recently by the state's Department of Environmental Protection. Once the study is completed, the city can determine how to develop the reservoir. If it is wetlands, it will receive protection under DEP rules regarding development on wetlands.Reservoir presentation
The 136-year-old reservoir was formerly a repository for the city's water supply and then a habitat for various species of birds, fish, and vegetation.
The Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance is a volunteer organization formed by nearby resident Steve Latham that has documented the history of the reservoir and has applied to the city for permits to conduct tours of it and remove its accumulated debris.
Also on Wednesday night, prior to the council meeting, the Pershing Field Garden Friends had their monthly meeting as well. Latham showed drawings of what the reservoir would look like if it were developed into an open nature space.
Latham showed off slides of what the reservoir looks like at the present time and also pointed to a site plan drawing of a future Reservoir No. 3. A future reservoir would include such details as nature paths with markers identify indigenous plant and wildlife, a multi-purpose building for wildlife education classes, and a fishing pier.
"[The reservoir] has been an open water of the state since 1870 and wetlands and enjoys protection from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection," said Latham during his presentation.
Latham later said, "In the midst of the urban grid we have the opportunity to have this bit of nature." A reservoir of contention
Ward C City Councilman Steve Lipski, who attended the Pershing Field Garden Friends meeting before heading to the City Council meeting, has been immersed in the controversy over the future of the reservoir. Lipski has advocated for developing the reservoir into ballfields, contrasting with others' stance to make it a passive park and nature preserve.
Lipski told the audience about the resolution being considered by the council for the reservoir study. Lipski then asked Jeffrey Bottler, a landscape architect from T&M Associates, the company hired to do the master plan, what his recommendation would be for the development of the reservoir. Bottler affirmed that an environmental study is needed to determine how the reservoir should be developed.
Lipski then said, "The jury is still out, folks. A number of people in this room are advocating passive space, but there are people who want to see some active space."
Joe Napolitano Jr., who heads the Pershing Field Babe Ruth Baseball League, argued that the reservoir should be considered for ballfields because he has had to turn away over 300 kids from his league that play in nearby Pershing Field, which has a limited amount of ball fields.
But a larger number gave their staunch support for the reservoir to be passive space.
Another audience member asked for a show of hands of who wanted passive space as opposed to active space and found a majority in favor of passive. The present status of the reservoir
The reservoir is presently closed to the public for the cleanup of construction debris that has been dumped in the reservoir, as the DEP mandated.
Vega wants to see the reservoir open again.
"I am looking forward to bring my son in there and do some fishing. And I believe at the end of the day, the reservoir will be found to be wetlands and this will a place [where people] will enjoy open space," said Vega. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org