Hazards ahead for vacationers

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:14

    WEST MILFORD — With summer recreational activities about to soar to a summer peak with the upcoming Independence Day weekend, another problem has reared its head amid the weeds and pollution of Greenwood Lake. Lack of police patrols. Shifting homeland security priorities pulled New Jersey State Police marine patrols off Greenwood Lake effective June 20. An offer to patrol the lake without cost to the township was made by Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale but rejected by township officials. That disclosure came at the June 16 Town Council meeting when a political opponent challenged the sitting Republican council members. "In difficult budget times when someone is offering you free help, I fail to see why you wouldn't take it. Unless it's a case of partisan politics," said Democrat council candidate Robert Nolan of Winding Way. Nolan urged officials to put partisanship aside for the benefit of the township. Nolan said County Sheriff Jerry Speziale has agreed to staff a boat patrol unit to provide a police presence and assist in water rescues. Costs for a patrol boat, dock and fuel would be funded with confiscated drug monies at no cost to taxpayers. According to Nolan, Speziale plans to staff the boat using his officers on a rotating basis. The sheriff's officers would be drawn from those who are unneeded elsewhere due to lower security demands due to vacationing judges and closed courtrooms. Nolan said the Greenwood Lake Village Police Department is excited about the program. He said the West Milford Police Department also was invited to participate and had been offered a partnership in a joint patrol operation. On June 22 the office of West Milford Police Chief James said Acting Township Administrator Kevin J. Byrnes has made no plans to patrol the lake. Passaic County officials are moving ahead with their plan to patrol Greenwood Lake according to Sheriff's Department Spokesman Bill Mayor. Madelyn Avenue resident Robert Pawlo said Speziale was "absolutely amazed" that the township does not want to participate in the program. Pawlo asked council members, "Is this council choosing politics over public safety?" James Warden of Highcrest Lake echoed Nolan and Pawlo's sentiments. Warden said Speziale had been in touch with Byrnes. The sheriff found Byrnes's resistance to have the lake patrolled by the county "curious," according to Warden. "Resistance to the idea also strikes me as curious," said Warden. "Unless you are waiting for someone to get killed." State Police termination of lake patrols was mentioned at a council meeting in May. Byrnes, then, said he hoped the marine patrols would be reinstated. The latest person to complain about the Greenwood Lake weed problem is Jack Schuchardt of Awosting who says he pays higher property assessments because "of what the town calls ‘a view tax.' "A view of the lake is nice to look at, but recently it hasn't been very nice," as his view is full of weeds. He said that between the Belcher's Creek pollution and a proposed laundromat, the outlook is rather bleak. He charged the laundromat is "about to spill a million gallons of detergent into the lake. It's all very good for the weeds," he said. "They are happy growing, getting bigger, having a good time." Meanwhile, Schuchardt says he's not so happy with the rising taxes he is paying to watch the weeds grow. "I haven't heard anything positive about what you plan to do to correct the problem of Greenwood Lake," he told officials. "I can guarantee if the weeds keep growing, and they will, feeding off Belcher's Creek and the laundromat. you are probably going to end up with a swamp here, or a wetland. That will be a great deterrent to the Township of West Milford, he charged. "If I am reading other signs correctly you are promoting tourism." Yet, "if this township were to take out an ad to invite tourists to come to Greenwood Lake, I would spend my own money to tell them not to come. I would take out an ad that says don't come to Greenwood Lake unless you want to get stuck in the weeds." Schuchardt told council members he had addressed previous councils and had been told it was not West Milford's problem. "If it's not your problem," the man said, "then I don't know whose problem it is."