Hopatcong Addresses Lake Survey Concern
Thursday, February 21, 2013 • 6:42am
HOPATCONG BOROUGH, NJ – Mayor Sylvia Petillo announced 70 postcards asking for comments about lake lowering were returned as undeliverable.
At the Wednesday, Feb. 20, borough council meeting, Petillo said the postcards, sent out by the State Department of Environmental Protection to lakefront property owners, are very important. They contain a survey asking if residents and business owners want to see Lake Hopatcong lowered by five feet next year, so residents can make dock repairs.
Marina owners objected to the five-year-lowering cycle, claiming the lake may not return to its peak navigable depth.
Petillo said alternatives exist for dock repair although they are expensive. “We need to know do people need the five-foot drawdown, or is there some other way they can repair their docks.”
“The post cards say ‘state park,'” Petillo said at the meeting.
She was concerned people might not read further to realize they pertain to the lake. She emphasized how important it is for the DEP to have the residents’ feeling on the matter, and urged anyone who did not receive the postcard, to contact borough hall.
Council is somewhat optimistic about the health of the lake. Petillo noted weed harvesting has been turned over to the state park commission, and about double the usual amount of weeds were harvested last season.
Councilman Richard Bunce said the commission has a whole crew maintaining the harvesters.
In other business:
Resident Barbara Loring reminded the council the railroad line is being extended, which can mean a boom in Hopatcong if the lake is in good shape.
Loring is also concerned about the school district. She said good schools are also necessary for Hopatcong to benefit from the extension of Midtown Direct.
The loss of Hopatcong students to charter schools and nearby schools in the state’s School Choice program, as well as to private and parochial schools, does not look good for the district, Loring said. Petillo confirmed the district has lost 1,000 students in 10 years. She noted the overall demographics of the borough have changed.
“People stay by the lake,” she said. “They don’t move away when they retire.”
In addition, the birth rate has dropped. “The borough lost 1,000 people from the 2000 to 2012 census.
Loring is convinced the best students have left the borough, and “we are left with the bottom, and the bottom is expensive,” she said.
Petillo pointed out the council has no control over the school district. When Loring complained her assessment went down due to the revaluation and her taxes went up, Petillo explained 53.09 percent of the tax rate goes to the school. The municipal rate accounts for 27.93 percent, the county for 17.08 percent, the county library 1.25 percent, county health department .51 percent, county open space.05 percent, and municipal open space .09 percent.
Council passed a resolution adopting the proposed Water Quality Management Plan Amendment in Sussex County. Borough attorney John Ursin explained the county and the DEP have been negotiating the plan for years. The state cut the amount of area eligible for sewers. Hopatcong has no more service area that is not built out, so the borough is not affected by the new service area.
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