Highlands Council offers help to lake communities

Ann Genader photo New Jersey Highlands Council Resource Management Specialist Keri Green (left) tells the West Milford Environmental Commission about possible financial help for lake community problems. Also pictured are Executive Director Lisa Plevin and Chairman Carl Richko.

WEST MILFORD – Representatives of the New Jersey Highlands Council (NJHC) will be at a West Milford Lakes Committee (WMLC) meeting on Oct. 15 to explain how lake communities may be able to get grant money to help them address their lake problems.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the municipal building meeting room at 1480 Union Valley Road.
Township Administrator Antoinette Battaglia and a township council representative will be requested to attend.
Newly appointed NJGC Director Lisa Plevin, Chairman Carl Richko, and Resource Management Specialist Keri Green were at a meeting of the West Milford Environmental Commission meeting on Oct. 2.
Three members from the WMLC were also present.
Richko, a West Milford resident and former councilman, introduced Plevin who was appointed to her position in July, and Green.
Green said a number of small lakes could benefit by having a lake audit.
She sees coming up with a plan as an interesting way to start addressing key areas, and talked about grant funds provided last year to Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake.
The funding grants are not for capital improvements and generally some sort of planning document will be needed for those seeking grant money at the small community lakes.
The NJGC representatives are interested in the work that has been underway by the EC to improve Belcher’s Creek.
Richko said the NJHC representatives will tour that area.
He recalled that 56 years ago teenagers from Camp Hope could swim in Belcher’s Creek and to see the poor condition that waterway is in today depresses him.
He said he supports any help that can be given to make those waters pure again.
EC Chair Steve Sangle said the commission has been sampling for nitrates and phosphates and studying test results to see if they are possible Belcher’s Creek pollution sources.
Richko said funding was approved for small lakes and he sees no reason that something can’t be done to improve conditions.
The place to start is development of a data base, he said.
The WMLC committee representatives wanted to know if any grant money to be received has to go directly to the township.
They were told that this is not necessarily the procedure and suggested it depends on the relationship they establish with the administrator and the council in reference to any grant money that comes in.
Green said the commission needs to maintain a resource inventory.
She said mapping is being developed that the commission and others will use and it will be a tremendous resource.
Richko said that in 1993 there was a proposal to turn vacant houses - left from the New City community that once housed city of Newark watershed employees - into a Bed and Breakfast New Hope type of community.
He said there were meetings with Newark’s Sharpe James but the plan did not materialize. Newark had the houses torn down and now the property is vacant watershed land.
He said he hopes that future planning will avoid such happenings.