Land and Reservoir Acquired for New Weehawken Public Park

December 28, 2011
Weehawken

Located on the Palisades above the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, a 14.4-acre reservoir—the largest privately-owned undeveloped property remaining in Weehawken—will anchor a new public park, the Township of Weehawken, the City of Union City, the State of New Jersey, and The Trust for Public Land announced today.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, facilitated the acquisition of the reservoir and conveyed the property from United Water New Jersey Inc. to Weehawken, Union City, and the State of New Jersey's Green Acres Program. The property, with views across the Hudson River to the Manhattan skyline, will be enhanced with a walking and running trail along the perimeter of the reservoir.

"Weehawken and Union City are densely populated, growing, and lacking options for new parks and open space, so this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new recreational amenity for this community," said Anthony Cucchi, New Jersey state director of The Trust for Public Land. "This project was complex and fast moving, but thanks to a concerted effort on the part of Weehawken, Union City, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and United Water, this urban community now has dedicated park space for generations to come."

According to the U.S. Census, Union City, N.J. and Weehawken, N.J. are the 2nd and 28th most densely populated municipalities in the country respectively.

"I am excited by the immeasurable potential of the reservoir project, which will offer more greenery and nature to residents of an urban setting," said Mayor Brian Stack, City of Union City.

A unique partnership between Weehawken and Union City combined with the effective leadership of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection made the complex acquisition possible within a short timeframe.

"This opportunity reflects Governor Christie's commitment to the preservation of land through the Green Acres Program and the protection of water supplies through the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust," NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin said.

"The agreement was made possible by the cooperation and vision of all the parties, who recognized and under an accelerated time frame acted upon a rare opportunity to permanently protect open space in the heart of one of the nation's most densely populated areas," the Commissioner added. "The people of Weehawken, Union City, Hudson County and the state will benefit greatly from the preservation of the Weehawken Reservoir for generations to come."

Funding for the purchase was provided in part by a New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT) loan to the Township of Weehawken in the amount of $8,700,000. Further funding in the amount of $2,000,000 was contributed to the purchase by the New Jersey Green Acres Program, along with $150,000 from the Township of Weehawken, and $150,000 from the City of Union City.

With the acquisition complete, the property is now permanently dedicated for use as a public park, while allowing portions of the reservoir to continue to function as a water storage facility. United Water will retain an easement to construct and maintain a 10 to 15-million-gallon water storage tank within a portion of the reservoir. The tank will be located beneath the water level of the reservoir.

"This is a great holiday present to the people of Weehawken and Union City that will endure for generations to come," said Bob Iacullo, president of United Water. "Our customers will retain the benefits of an underground water storage tank on the site, and the city residents will continue to have an unobstructed view of the reservoir that they have enjoyed for close to a century. We feel privileged to be part of this historic transaction."

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. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect 3 million acres nationwide, including more than 24,000 acres in New Jersey. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations.