Egbert’s Lake Now Open To The Public (NJ)

Rockaway Township, NJ, 10/17/2006: Mayor Louis Sceusi and representatives from The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today that Egbert’s Lake in Rockaway Township is now open to the public. The land was protected through a public-private partnership in January of this year and in March, 12 cabins around the lake were demolished to make way for public access. Visitors can now hike and fish at the new park, which is accessible from Route 513/Green Pond Road.

“We dedicate today, a 77-acre tract of land that had been in the Egbert Family since the mid 1860s. After becoming very popular in the1940s and 50s, the land was nearly lost to development. Thanks to so many individuals and organizations, Egbert’s Lake is now a public park for all generations to come,” said Rockaway Township Mayor Louis S. Sceusi.

“This one-time private resort is now available to the public. We are so pleased that current and future generations can now enjoy this wonderful spot in Rockaway Township,” said Terrence Nolan, director of the New Jersey Field Office of The Trust for Public Land.

In the 1940s and 50s the land was a summer resort and camp centered on a beautiful 15-acre lake with cabins, a recreation center, and a clubhouse. Over time, the cabins had become unusable and the property was targeted by a developer for the construction of 15 homes. Rockaway Township asked TPL to step in to negotiate a deal with the landowner and protect the land as public open space. TPL was able to facilitate the purchase for $1.3 million using funds from Rockaway Township, Morris County, the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program, and a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

The township and the state now own the land. An easement along an abandoned rail bed on the west side of the lake will be transferred to the Morris County Park Commission as an extension of their West Morris Greenway trail system, connecting the property to Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area.

The land sits in the New Jersey Highlands, a 1,000-square-mile area in the Northwest part of the state, stretching from Phillipsburg in the Southwest to Ringwood in the Northeast. The Highlands include portions of seven New Jersey counties and 87 municipalities. Sixty-four percent of New Jersey residents, about 5.4 million people, receive their water from the Highlands.

The land purchase is The Trust for Public Land’s fourth in Rockaway Township. Through the partnership, the group has added more than 900 acres to the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area in the last five years. The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. With its state office in Morristown, The TPL has helped protect more than 30,000 acres through its New York-New Jersey Highlands program.