Water Well Unwelcome in Nishuane Park, Residents Say

Montclair homeowners around the park spoke out against the well facility project at the second of two public meetings on Thursday.


A water well proposal in Nishuane Park received a second round of rebuke Thursday night by residents in favor of preserving the parkland. 

More than 30 people turned out at the municipal building for a second night to cite their utter disapproval with the township’s Nishuane Well Production Facility Project. The township’s plan, a 38- by 41-foot water treatment facility and 10-foot wide access road from High Street on less than half an acre of the park, is designed to better accommodate Montclair’s growth during the next 30 years.

“The sustainability of this supply source is – I don’t want to say infinite – but the projection ... forecasts it is a longtime sustainable source, ” said Andrew Holt, principal of Suburban Consulting Engineers Inc. who is helping oversee the proposal.

Director of Montclair Water Bureau Gary Obszarny said Montclair is expected to expand both its resident population and business sector in the coming decades, based on township and county figures. 

Using information from the township’s yet-to-be passed 30-year master plan, he said optimistic projections in the next 30 years are:

  • 3,500 additional residential units
  • 500,000 square feet of retail space
  • 500,000 square feet of office space

This kind of growth, he added, would require the township to provide an additional 800,000 gallons of water a day.

According to more “modest” estimates, said Obszarny, Essex County projects Montclair will add at least 2,400 residential units in the next three decades.

“If you are looking at the future with any growth,” said Obszarny, “even as low as the county or – as I’ll call it – the great expectation of the [township] ... you’re going to need a new well.”

Holt added that other projections forecast needing to provide about 10 million more gallons of water a month, and the three current wells in town do not perform to capacity. 

“An increase of a demand of about 10 million gallons a month is an additional burden on our current resources,” said Holt. “... We no longer have what [the state’s Department of Environmental Protection] says on paper we have the ability to produce.”

Fourth Ward residents and those living near the park however were unconvinced, and pledged to prevent the project from ever happening. Nearly a dozen people cited environmental concerns and the loss of public space as key reasons for objecting to the facility. 

“You have not given us a compelling case for building this well,” said Patti Grunther. “...It sounds like you people are trying to create the need.” 

“You should know you will have some very committed people working against you, because we do not want that well there,” she added. 

Environmental Impact

Many residents raised concerns over the air stripper at the proposed facility which will treat the water but also release additional compounds into the air. 

On the pointed roof of the water well, an air stripper will be placed in the shape of a chimney that will treat or clean the water. The air stripper was installed because the testing of the well water found higher than permitted contaminants which Obszarny said were “not naturally occurring.” 

The air stripper will remove the contaminants from water and convert them to vapor, which will be dispersed into the air. Obszarny emphasized that the compounds are well below those permitted by law and “not measurable contaminants.”

“The air stripper is the most economical and state of the art in the industry right now,” said Holt.

‘Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder’

The design of the facility was called “ugly” by residents, and many said it stood out and did not match the character of the neighborhood. 

Obszarny said a redesign of the building was possible, and the architectural renderings shown at the meeting were still in the planning stages. 

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said Obszarny. “There are possibilities of modifying the building. We had to start off with something."

thewayitis January 22, 2013 at 04:43 PM
D-Zone: I received an email from Dep. Mayor Russo last night (responding to my opposition letter that I'd sent last week) in which he explained that he was out of town on vacation with his family and that's why he wasn't at the meetings. That's a valid reason and I appreciate that he responded to me. I don't know what Mayor Jackson's reason is, or the others. Baskerville attended both meetings and opposes the plan. For anyone who has doubts or questions, kindly put them in writing to the Mayor and Town Council and be sure to cc the NJ-DEP also. We have until 1/25/13 for comments to be received. And if you oppose, please sign the petition. Thank you.
thewayitis January 22, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Here's the link to the petition. Also, folks may find the comments people are making in the petition enlightening. It is a good snapshot of how many residents think and feel about this project. Thanks to anyone who can sign and share this with your circle of friends. http://www.change.org/petitions/david-smith-n-j-department-of-environmental-protection-deny-the-application-for-a-water-well-on-green-acres-land-at-nishuane-park?share_id=CZdXxnuOAF&utm_campaign=mailto_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition
D-Zone January 22, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Not to say Russo's response is not legitimate; but, this is his 4th time on the council. Nothing good happens. This is Jackson's second and more experienced with his intentions as well. Dashield never respond (Plainfield residents happy to see him go).
CMFAS55 January 22, 2013 at 06:57 PM
Did I read it right elsewhere - and D-Zone mentioned this too - that the plan is to sell the water to other towns and entities (MSU) until Montclair gets to a level of population that needs to utilize it? Maybe this is the start of their outsourcing of services approach to bring money into the town coffers. Is that a big money-maker and does it support a $2.6MM investment? Is it large enough to make many less concerned about losing some park land and more noise for some of the residents in the area? On that NIMBY issue, I look at this in the same vein as the discussions when the NJT train was set to run through Montclair on the weekends and when the rail crossings had to be upgraded to stop the trains from blowing loud whistles some number of times at every crossing. Many said that those who lived near the tracks have to expect train noise - even on weekends and deal with the horns - we needed weekend service and paying to upgrade the crossings was a waste of like $2.5MM or something like that. Meanwhile a large amount of the town would have had to deal with horns blarring 7 days a week if those folks had their way. Rather intelligence prevailed and we have the train from a limited spot (Bay St or is it Walnut?) on the weekends and we have the upgraded crossings to lower the noise pollution. Assuming this plan makes sense, then I hope a similar smart compromise can be reached here to make the locals happy, keep the park nice and give the town a source of revenue.
Mike D'Onofrio February 13, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Update: New article posted about water well facility. Township received transcripts of the meetings. http://montclair.patch.com/articles/township-receives-transcripts-from-nishuane-water-well-hearings -- MCD


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