PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE: Jersey City Reservoir Enters a New Era with Award of Historic Preservation Plan Contract

Jersey City, New Jersey – July 17, 2009.   The Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy and the City Council are pleased to announce that the City Council unanimously approved a resolution to hire a team led by historic preservation architects John Milner Associates (JMA) for the first Reservoir #3 project.  The work to be performed by the JMA team will provide the City and the Reservoir Alliance with the research, site analysis and conceptual design necessary to learn about and preserve the Reservoir’s past, understand the present and look to the future.  The JMA team, headed by Architectural Conservator Alfonso Narvaez, includes Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, a landscape architecture firm, Weidlinger Associates, a global civil engineering firm, and Robert Silman Associates, the premier structural engineering firm for historic structures, along with SESI and Princeton Engineering.

PAST.  In looking at the Reservoir’s past, the JMA team will document the history of the Reservoir, which was built in 1871-1874, its role in the Jersey City water supply system, its original construction and engineering, its character-defining features and its materials.  The ultimate goal is to generate a historic preservation plan that will make detailed, technical recommendations on the steps necessary to preserve and restore the site.  In addition, JMA will work to have the site listed to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, a status that will unlock potential funding resources.

PRESENT.  Before transforming the Reservoir into a fully operational park, the JMA team will provide us with a full understanding of the current site and structural conditions including its stone walls, the earthen berm, the clay basin, the two pumphouses and the screen tower.  The JMA team will also examine hydraulic systems, site ecology, wetlands permitting and potential contaminants.    The JMA team has extensive experience with historic sites where water plays a prominent role, such as canals and waterways.  Most recently, JMA worked on the post-Katrina emergency stabilization of Fort Pike in New Orleans and Fort Jackson in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.   An accurate assessment of the Reservoir’s current condition will allow us to carefully proceed with park development.

FUTURE.  The project will also start the process of looking ahead to the Reservoir’s future. We are excited to have visionary landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates as a part of the team.  The firm’s work on Hoboken’s Pier C, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Teardrop Park in Battery Park City demonstrates its ability to think both imaginatively and pragmatically.  With this project, we will begin the conceptual design process that will turn this decommissioned public works site reclaimed by nature into a beautiful park, with trails for hiking and amenities for boating and fishing.

Upon passage of the resolution, Council President Mariano Vega, a long-time supporter of the Reservoir said, “I am pleased to support the Jersey City Reservoir Alliance and the great work they are doing to create additional recreation for the diverse residents of Jersey City.  I am especially pleased that the Reservoir Alliance worked collaboratively with the City’s Chief Architect Glenn Wrigley to select John Milner Associates—the first step toward making the Reservoir fully operational for all the people of Jersey City.”

This project was funded with a grant from the Hudson County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

Press Resources, including photos and contact info, available at www.jcreservoir.org/press.

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