Weed harvester finally sets sail on Greenwood Lake

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    While many boats and their crew return to the lakes around West Milford for the summer season few will provide as much attention given to the long awaited weed harvester. The harvester was due for its maiden voyager at noon on Thursday, provided no further last minute hitches arose. Holdups to the vessel reaching water have become the focus rather than the purpose it was bought to serve. Trying to solve the problem of weeds on the lake have been ongoing for many years. When the township council passed a motion in December 2004 for the town to participate in an agreement with The Greenwood Lake Commission and Passaic County Sheriff's Department it seemed the path was clear for harvesting to begin in the spring of 2005. Concern among some township officials over the insurance liability caused delays, however. Council member James Warden who has been one of the driving forces behind the venture said on Monday "We had some problems with the insurance but they have been resolved and we will sail the harvester from DeFeo's Marina to the Small Craft Marina on Thursday." Warden also spoke of the political aspect the harvester has taken on. Warden, alongside other local Democrats, have been keen to take credit for their part in bringing the harvester to town, but believes that some would rather see the project fail. Warden said "Believe it or not there are people in town who don't want to see the harvester succeed." Republican council member Joseph Elcavage is one who has voiced discontent with the delayed launching. Elcavage said "I am quite disappointed that it is not on the water hard at work yet. It seems that we have already missed the first part of the weed harvesting season and all that we have to show for it is a couple of "political photos" in the newspapers." The weed harvester was paid for by a $200,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection awarded to the Greenwood Lake Commission. The bi-state commission was created to help ensure that the natural, scenic, and recreational resources of Greenwood Lake were protected from damage due to environmental and other threats from both sides of the New York n New Jersey border. The New Jersey Chair of the commission, Ella Filippone, is credited by politicians on both sides for playing a substantial role in winning the grant. Provided the harvester does set sail as planned, the training program for operating the vessel will also commence on Thursday. Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale is providing operators through the Labor Assistance Program and has guaranteed to do so as long as he holds office in the Sheriff's Department. Two township officials from the Department of Works will take the full training provided by the harvester manufacturer's Aquarius Systems. Weeds have become a persistent annoyance to boats in Greenwood Lake particularly in the south end portion of the nine-mile long lake. Several attempts have been made over the past few years to gain funding to remove the weeds or dredge the lake but until the recent acquisition of the harvester all had been unsuccessful. The U.S. Army Engineers had also been consulted to research the problems in the lake and hope to provide a long term solution but that too has been held up due to funding difficulties.