ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO AND ORANGE MAYOR WARREN TOUR CONSTRUCTION SITE FOR ORANGE RESERVOIR DEVELOPMENT
Former Water Reserve Property Being Opened for Public Use and Transformed for Recreation Activities
West Orange, NJ – On Tuesday, April 16th, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren toured the Orange Reservoir property in Essex County South Mountain Reservation to see the progress that is being made to develop the site for recreation opportunities, including picnicking, paddle boating, fishing, ice skating and hiking. Under construction is an open-air pavilion for picnics, a floating dock for paddle boating and upgrades to the Oakdale parking area.
“Thanks to Orange Mayor Warren and the Orange City Council, we have established a partnership to open the Orange Reservoir property to the public and allow the County to develop the site for recreation purposes. The improvements we are making will create an extraordinary location where the public will be able to escape the concrete and asphalt and enjoy the spectacular views and water,” DiVincenzo said. “With Turtle Back Zoo, the Treetop Adventure Course, miniGOLF Safari, Boathouse Restaurant and Codey Arena nearby, the Reservoir is an ideal extension to our popular South Mountain Recreation Complex,” he added.
“During these times when we talk about shared services and saving resources, this project is a great example of a public partnership between the City of Orange and Essex County,” Warren said. “It’s good to see all the construction activity and, knowing our County Executive, this will be a first-class destination when it is complete. I know our seniors will be thrilled when we host our annual Senior Picnic here later this summer,” he added.
Improvements being made to the Orange Reservoir site include the construction of a 30-by-60 foot, open-air pavilion for picnics and special events, a floating dock to accommodate access to the waterway for paddle boats, a restroom building and boat rental booth, and the reconstruction of the Oakdale parking lot located across Cherry Lane from the reservoir property. The pavilion is designed with a log cabin theme to match the architecture of the nearby McLoone’s Boathouse Restaurant. The area around the floating dock will feature nautical flags and sailing decorations. The area near the reservoir will have walking paths with decorative lighting, benches, trash receptacles and be heavily landscaped. At the roadway, a cut-out driveway will be created to along motorists to safely park on the side Cherry Lane to drop off passengers. The Oakdale parking lot is being upgraded with new pavement and drainage, a nearby storage building will be torn down, and a traffic light will be installed at the parking lot entrance to enhance motor vehicle and pedestrian safety for those visiting the site. In addition, a sidewalk linking the miniGOLF Safari/McLoone’s Restaurant parking lot to the Reservoir was installed along Cherry Lane, decorative fencing with columns that match fencing at Turtle Back Zoo and the miniGOLF Safari, and an old chain link fence, fallen and dead trees, and brush were removed from the wooded area along the waterway.
The project was designed by French & Perrello Associates from Wall under an existing engineering contract. Shauger Property Services from East Orange was awarded a publicly bid contract for $2,371,458 to perform the construction work. The Essex County Department of Public Works is monitoring the project and answering questions so delays can be avoided. Grants from the NJ Green Acres Program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund are funding the project. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer 2013.
Essex County and the City of Orange entered into a 20-year lease agreement over the property in October 2012. According to the terms of the partnership, Essex County will pay a total of $1.6 million to Orange to lease the Reservoir property and will be responsible for all costs to maintain and develop the site for public recreation. The first improvement that Essex County made was to demolish a dilapidated single-family home and adjacent storage building that formerly was used as the reservoir superintendent’s house.
The 115-acre Orange Reservoir property is located on Cherry Lane in West Orange and is within the boundaries of the Essex County South Mountain Reservation. The City of Orange ceased using the Reservoir as a source of drinking water in the late 1990s. At over 2,000 acres, Essex County South Mountain Reservation is the largest reservation in the historic Essex County Parks System. The County began purchasing land for South Mountain Reservation in 1895, making South Mountain one of the County’s first parks. Today, the Essex County South Mountain Recreation Complex includes the Reservation, Turtle Back Zoo, Codey Arena, Treetop Adventure Course, miniGOLF Safari and McLoone’s Boathouse Restaurant.