ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO AND ORANGE MAYOR WARREN ANNOUNCE LEASE AGREEMENT FOR ORANGE RESERVOIR
Tuesday, October 9, 2012 • 11:17pm
West Orange, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and Orange Mayor Dwayne D. Warren announced a lease agreement for the Orange Reservoir on Tuesday, October 9th. The long-term partnership will open the Orange Reservoir property to the public and grants permission to Essex County to develop the property for recreational purposes, including paddle boating, walking, biking, fishing, ice skating and more.
“The Orange Reservoir has great, untapped potential and, for many years, it has been my goal to develop public recreation opportunities on this property. We can see paddle boats on the water, people walking and biking on waterfront pathways, fishing, ice skating and enjoying other leisure activities. It’s a spectacular and unmatched natural setting, totally unexpected, right here in Essex County,” 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. It will be a place where families and people of all ages will come to escape the hustle and bustle of their busy lives,” he added.
“We thank Mayor Warren and the City Council for partnering with the County to make this beautiful natural resource available for the entire community – in Essex County and throughout the State – to enjoy,” the Executive said.
“I remember when I walked into the office on my first day as Mayor, there was this project on my desk that was good for the residents of Orange and Essex County,” Orange Mayor Dwayne D. Warren said. “There is no better partner than Essex County. Joe never wavered in his commitment to Orange. I can’t wait to start enjoying this,” he added.
The 20-year lease agreement was approved by both the Orange City Council and Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Essex County will pay a total of $1.6 million to Orange to lease the Orange Reservoir. The rate for the first 10 years is $75,000 per year and the rate for the second 10 years is $85,000 per year. A $750,000 lease payment for first 10 years is being paid up front with funds from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund.
“Thank you to our County Executive and the City of Orange for this magnificent addition of open space for our residents to enjoy,” Sheriff Armando Fontoura said.
“Today signals another positive activity for the County Executive. No one has been able to accomplish as much during their tenure as County Executive Joe DiVincenzo. We’ve seen a transformation throughout our county and Joe has been the spark plug,” Assemblyman Thomas Giblin said.
The first improvement project planned for the Orange Reservoir property is to demolish a dilapidated single-family home and adjacent storage building that formerly was used as the reservoir superintendent’s house. Planned for that area is a 35-by-60 foot open air pavilion for picnicking and hosting special events, and the installation of a floating dock where paddle boats will be launched. Rehabilitating a walking path on the property is also planned so visitors can walk around the perimeter of the body of water. Other features of the site will be an outdoor fireplace and patio.
“For a number of years, we have been hoping to reach this conclusion. We appreciate the County Executive working so hard with the City of Orange to get this agreement done,” Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold said. “The people of Essex County will truly benefit because they will be able to come to this beautiful place when it’s done,” she added.
“When this property is enhanced, there is no doubt that people will come and enjoy it,” Freeholder Carol Clark said. “I look forward to our partnership with Orange and I’m glad our County Executive had this vision and acted upon it,” she added.
“Our agreement with Orange is an example of the collaboration that has to exist for us to get things done,” Freeholder Brendan Gill said. “I appreciate all the progress that has been made in our parks because of the leadership of our County Executive and this will definitely add to the legacy of promoting open space,” he pointed out.
Under the terms of the lease agreement, Essex County will become responsible for maintaining the property, except the Campbell’s Pond Dam, as well as maintaining any recreation facilities that are developed on the property. The agreement also memorializes the County’s use of the reservoir property for the popular train ride at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo.
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.