15 Sep 2014
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Proposed Dam Project Could Ruin Aesthetics Of South Mountain Reservation

Proposed Dam Project Could Ruin Aesthetics Of South Mountain Reservation
by Mike Pignataro

A proposed dam intended to prevent flooding in Cranford and neighboring towns would ruin the "pristine" and "beautiful" atmosphere of the South Mountain Reservation, Essex County's executive said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a 70-foot high and 880-foot long dam for the reservation near the Millburn Township line to help prevent future flooding in downstream towns like Cranford.

The project would remove hundreds of trees and area residents would no longer be able to walk or fish in the area, according to My9NJ.com.

"To be able to take away and build a dam here something that was proposed in 1972, we are talking about 45 years that they proposed the exact same thing they’re proposing now," Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo told My9NJ.com.

"Ya know this is something that’s pristine, it’s something that’s beautiful, it’s nature and it’s just not right and we’re not gonna allow it to happen here in Essex County."

The reservation is one of seven possible locations for the dam, according to the report. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are evaluating environmental and financial impacts of each of the potential locations.

The Save Our Reservation group has voiced concerns over the proposed plan, saying the dam and the associated 110-acre dry detention basin is misguided and would irreparably damage the treasured century-old South Mountain Reservation.

"A 70-foot deep South Mountain Reservoir, even if dry most of the time, would destroy vegetation, and many trails and roads in one of the few large, natural open spaces in central New Jersey. Essex County is already challenged by proportionately less open space than neighboring counties, so any acreage lost would be keenly felt,” said Dennis Percher, chairman of the South Mountain Conservancy’s Board of Trustees.

"This loss would be especially tragic considering that this new reservoir, damming only the upper part of the west branch of the Rahway River, is likely to affect too little of the total river flow to prevent the most serious flooding downstream. The damage to the Reservation would be irreparable without solving the flooding problems.”

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