Greenwood Lake Commission opens new office

| 21 Jun 2012 | 08:16

WEST MILFORD — The Greenwood Lake Commission opened its new home to the public last Saturday, welcoming about 30 guests throughout the day including town and county elected officials. Passaic County Freeholder Theodore Best along with West Milford Mayor Bettina Bieri and Councilwoman CarlLa Horton were on hand for the grand opening of the office, which is located at 2019F Greenwood Lake Turnpike in Hewitt, right across from the West Milford Diner.

Ella Filipone, the New Jersey chairperson for the bi-state commission, is upbeat about the new location and the willingness of the public to get involved in bringing the lake back to a healthy state.

"This office gives us a lot more visibility," said Filipone, who said some of the visitors just stopped into Saturday's open house because they were in the area. "It's great visibility for us."

The office gives this commission, whose job is to ensure the protection of Greenwood Lake and its watershed and to improve the water quality of the lake, a home base where they can have commission meetings and be an outreach to the public. A part-time staffer will be in the office about 10 hours each week. Filipone hopes volunteers will keep the office open even more.

"A lot of people live on the lake and they care about the lake," she said. "We need to get it back on its feet again."

Boat permits are available at the office as well as information on preventing storm water runoff, pesticide use, and educational materials on how to get and keep the lake healthy.

Restoring the lake Nutrient overload is the main cause of eutrophication of the lake - that's when the lake fills with sediment and plant life due to excess fertilizers, sewage and other natural and artificial sources. The Greenwood Lake Commission has been fighting the process, educating those who live on the lake about their use of fertilizers and how the runoff into the lake harms the lake.

The commission has purchased a weed harvester to help rid the lake of weeds, which is a major problem. Filipone said the New York Chairperson of the commission, George Vurno has gotten the harvester fixed. They are now working on finding an operator.

The commission has also removed stumps from the lake, something Filipone said "was huge" in helping restore the lake. Over 2,000 stumps were removed, some up to three feet in diameter and three feet in height. Removing those stumps brings additional depth to the lake.

While the New York part of Greenwood Lake is a natural body of water, the New Jersey side is man made. That in itself causes issues because, as Filipone describes it, "Anything that is artificial, nature reclaims it."

Sediment, especially from Belcher's Creek, is one of the main culprits. In the past, some of West Milford's sewage treatment plans weren't operating at 100 percent and putting sewage into the creek and ultimately in the lake. Filipone said she hopes the commission will be working with the Municipal Utilities Authority in the future to deal with this.

Filipone, who is also head of the Passaic River Coalition, is looking to get funding to dredge the lake. She said she has spoken to New Jersey Senator Joseph Pennacchio about funding for a dredging project, who is willing to introduced funding legislation only if Governor Chris Christie will sign it. Filipone said she will work on convincing the governor to sign the bill.

There is much on the Greenwood Lake Commission's plate and much on its wish list. Filipone is hoping to drum up interest and get folks to volunteer and do their part to get the lake healthy. She is working on getting a newsletter out three times a year to all who live on the lake, keeping them up to date on the lake's progress.

The ultimate goal, she said, it to get the lake healthy and keep it that way so all can enjoy it.

"People who stopped by the office were very willing and interested in helping," said Filipone. "Ultimately, we want people to enjoy the lake."

The Greenwood Lake Commission meets each month, alternating locations between the Village of Greenwood Lake Community Center in New York and the West Milford Township Hall in New Jersey. For information on their meetings, go to