UNION COUNTY, NJ — The Union County freeholder board announced on Friday, Sept. 25, that it will be receiving $250,000 in state funds that will be used to dredge the Clark Reservoir, which sits off Lake Avenue in the township. The announcement comes as the county is currently studying recreational usage, environmental impacts and dredging the 150-acre reservoir, in a master plan.
“The Clark Reservoir is an important natural resource and part of a watershed that provides a recreational oasis and picturesque backdrop for many in Union County,” Sen. Nicholas Scutari said. “I also thank the governor for including my funding request for this project in his budget.”
Freeholder Christopher Hudak thanked Scutari for providing the funding. “Through the master plan we have embarked on,” he added, “we seek to maximize the benefit of this beautiful natural resource, which was once destined to be developed, and offer our residents increased recreational opportunities in a bucolic setting.”
“We are looking forward to making improvements at the reservoir that will enhance its use by the public, and we welcome the funding, which is perfectly timed,” said Freeholder Chairperson Alexander Mirabella. “I would like to thank Sen. Scutari for his efforts in lobbying for the funding and Gov. Murphy for including it in his budget.”
The Clark Reservoir was built in 1907 along the Robinson’s Branch of the Rahway River. It fell into disuse by the early 1990s. To prevent the property from being drained and sold, Clark took ownership of the reservoir. A conservation easement was established to protect the surrounding shoreline from development forever.
In 2008, the county acquired the reservoir from Clark for $1. Combined with its acquisition of the former St. Agnes property on Madison Hill Road in Clark and the former Schwarz Farm on Old Raritan Road straddling Clark and Westfield, the county assembled a continuous greenway that links the Clark Reservoir with nearby parks and public lands.
Greenways were a fundamental part of the original design of the Union County parks system, dating back to the 1920s. The Olmsted Brothers, the same firm that designed New York’s Central Park, envisioned continuous natural pathways along the county’s streams and rivers.
In addition to their public recreation and conservation roles, greenways also serve as natural, low-cost storm drainage systems.