Mayor vows to preserve space as open, passive
By JARRETT RENSHAW
JERSEY JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy pledged yesterday to preserve controversial Reservoir 3 as passive, open space for generations to come, ending years of contentious debate over one of the most talked about pieces of property in the city’s recent history.
The 13-acre parcel sat at the center of a political drama, as groups who wanted the site transformed into recreational fields battled against those who wanted to see the space reserved for passive recreation.
“Now is the time for action,” said Healy yesterday at a news conference at nearby Pershing Field. “We are one of the most dense cities in the country, and our residents need not just play fields, but open, passive space.”
The plan for the park includes a fishing pier, a jogging path, a canoeing pier and some space for educational activities. The massive stone walls – built in Egyptian Revival style – that surround the site will continue to be a landmark fixture in the Heights neighborhood.
Healy refused to offer a timeline, but said the park amenities will be added incrementally, adding that as early as this summer he hopes to upgrade the safety conditions at the site.
The City Council is expected to vote on an ordinance shortly that would define the site as a park, opening the door for state and county funding.
Reservoir 3 was closed to the public in the 1970s, and its usage as a municipal water source ended in 1992, but recently community groups have used it to host events such as fishing tournaments and educational outings.
“This is the right time for the right place,” said City Council President Mariano Vega Jr. “We can’t build what we have here again.”
Downtown Councilman Steve Fulop had a somewhat more cynical view.
“We have been saying this for two years, and considering the city’s financial situation, there was little choice, but we still have to find a place for the children,” said Fulop.
Yesterday’s announcement had some extra special meaning for Steve Latham, president of the Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance, which has fought for years to see the site preserved.
“Today is a great day, and it shows that perseverance pays off,” said Latham.
The Preservation Alliance was formed in 2002, with just a few members. Today, the group boasts a membership of nearly 2,000.
“I had a large constituency that wanted active recreation, but they never got petitions together,” said Ward C Councilman Steve Lipski.