Township Wants To Place New Water Well on Protected Parkland

This is the first of two articles about Montclair's proposal to build a water treatment facility in Nishuane Park.


Editor’s note: This is the first of a two part story about the Nishuane Park water well project. Click here to read part two.  

The township contends its growth will depend on a larger water supply, but residents object to a plan to place a new water treatment facility on federally protected parkland.  

The township is proposing to build a $2.6 million public water facility in a known and viable well on the east side of Nishuane Park near the intersection of High Street and Orange Road. The township says the additional well is necessary to meet both current and future needs in Montclair. 

“You have to be proactive before you are reactive,” said Director of Montclair’s Water Bureau Gary Obszarny when it comes toward planning for Montclair’s current and future water use. 

Obszarny added the Nishuane well is the biggest in town, and if it were tapped, it would be the “best producer in Montclair.” 

However, the open space is protected through the state’s Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program, and the township will need approval from Green Acres to begin construction.  

The site at Nishuane Park was chosen because the well has been tested to be “a viable source,” said Andrew Holt, principal of Suburban Consulting Engineers Inc. who is overseeing the planning and approval process, “and Montclair Water is electing to advance that and develop it as a supply source to enhance [its] ability to meet demands.” 

On Wednesday, more than 80 people packed into the small conference room in the municipal building for the first of two public meetings about the project, named the Nishuane Well Production Facility Project. 

Residents’ comments, which were unanimously against the proposal to place a well in the park, will be used by the state to help determine whether to allow the land to be used for the project. 

The bureau wants to use the well in Nishuane Park, discovered 30 years ago, as a “new source of water” for the township, said Holt. The township currently has three production wells to meet the needs of nearly 100 gallons a day per resident in the township, according to Obszarny.

A 38- by 41-foot water treatment facility has been proposed to be placed over the well on less than half an acre of the park, in addition to an access road from High Street and a temporary workspace. 

The area around the proposed location for the building is bordered by a sleepy suburban street on one side lined with homes, and on the other with woods and parkland. It is down the street from Nishuane Elementary School, a public pool, two baseball fields and basketball courts.   

An air stripper will also be placed on the building which will treat the water from the well. While the air stripper will inject volatile chemical compounds into the air which are the byproduct of treating the water, Holt said the compounds will be at minimum amounts below those permitted by federal law and will not affect the air quality in the neighborhood. 

Holt added that the township needs to have more “redundancy” in its water system to meet the demands during peak hours, maintain water pressure in Montclair’s three pressure zones, meet fire and safety suppression, and also prepare for the township’s expected population growth. 

Development in town has been cited time and again by Mayor Robert Jackson and the council as the key to Montclair’s economic future. The township is also looking into how it can add a massive influx of business space in town. In addition, the Montclair Center Gateway Project is expected to break ground soon, a six-story building on Bloomfield Avenue that will add more than 330 units in its first phase alone.  

“We have a [township] master plan that anticipates redevelopment and additional development in the town,” said Mike Heenehan, an environmental consultant working on the proposal, “and we do not have an ability to serve those needs.” 

To compensate the state for using the protected open space, the township is putting up $130,000 which can be invested in parkland anywhere in Montclair. The water bureau recommended that some of the money reforest Nishuane Park and the area around the new water facility.  

Click here to read part two of the story. 

frank rubacky January 19, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Chris, Not In Our Park is NIMBY, Not In Our Parks is not. The Fourth Ward will be MIA with the other park space that will be lost in Montclair. The Fourth Ward's singular issue has & is No More Development, but they overwhelmingly vote in a TC that is all about development.
A. Cathy Hawley January 20, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Obviously the last two posters did not follow the issue of the Mental Health Association BOA case. To set the record straight…South End 4th Ward WAS NOT MIA on that issue. We came out in full force, hired an Attorney and a Planner and won at the local level. However; MHA appealed to superior court and thanks to (1) the township attorney (Ira Karasick) who advised the township not to fight the appeal and (2) last minute change of Superior Court Judge, the South End 4th Ward (Montclair Residential Preservation Group) lost the appeal at the Superior Court level. Also, not all 4th ward residents voted for this TC. How comes when it comes to doing something in the South End of town it is labeled NIMBY however; when done in other wards projects are labeled – “against zoning, bad for environment, will lose green space, etc., but is never labeled NIMBY.” I don’t get this one. What are the residents in all wards of town going to say when they start losing air space, light, views, etc.? due to building on top of existing parking lots in town which is what the Mayor proposes to do? Request to change zone designations are being considered for the benefit of developers, giving of PILOTS and you name it, all for developers. Residents keep your eyes open because a shell game is definitely being played by this TC.
frank rubacky January 20, 2013 at 07:19 PM
1) I didn't follow the Mental Health facility NOR did I post on the Mental Health facility. 2) correct, 4% did not vote for this TC 3) I have no idea what other cases you refer to, but this case is NIMBY.
A. Cathy Hawley January 22, 2013 at 02:17 AM
As far as I know the house is still privately owned. Variance for a school was not granted. Don't know what they will propose next. The next thing on the agenda - is they are trying to re-zone lower Blmfld Ave to accommodate a developer so that he can build his building higher. It just doesn't stop.
A. Cathy Hawley January 22, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Cronyism is alive and well in Montclair. Boards and Committees are all being stacked with the Mayor’s people. What better way to be certain your developer friends get their projects through. We must pay attention and connect the dots, follow the bouncing ball and paper trails. Folks did come out for the Assisted Care facility on Church Street but to no avail. I didn’t hear about Plofker’s project on Bloomfield & Bell until after his variance got approved. Research Plofker’s projects – I believe most if not all required some type of variance. Isn’t it funny that he can’t seem to do his project within the guidelines of the zoning ordinances? TC is encouraging new development yet it’s a shame they aren’t doing anything to offer incentives to get the vacant (plenty of them) retail spaces re-occupied. What is on the drawing board…Oh yes – sell Police Headquarters and Municipal Building and become a tenant of a landlord that does not keep up his current property. This may reduce the debit momentarily but what do we do when the TC pi@%@# away the proceeds from the sale of the buildings on anything but reducing the debt. Then we are a tenant and over the years the rent will increase. Doubt that ARC (owner of Pathmark Mall) will give the township a life-time rental agreement at a nominal rent with no increases. How much you want to bet that this deal would include ARC getting a PILOT out of the deal. Shell games, shell games.


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