Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Reservoir-Draining Challenged

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Reservoir-Draining Challenged

Article excerpt

Pressure continues to mount for the Passaic Valley Water Commission to meet with the public to explain its $120 million project to drain the three reservoirs on Garret Mountain.

Three members of the New Jersey Community Development Corp. appeared before the PVWC on Wednesday to urge the water company to deliver on its promise to meet with residents. The Paterson-based non-profit is in the Great Falls Historic District, in the shadow of the Stanley M. Levine Reservoir, which the water commission plans to drain in 2015.

Robert Guarasci, the community development group's executive director, said the utility has failed to explore alternatives to draining the three Garret Mountain reservoirs and replacing them with concrete tanks. He said $120 million from ratepayers is about to be spent without the utility ever explaining the project to the public.

"This will result in very significant rate increases to ratepayers, many of whom are living paycheck to paycheck," said Guarasci. "At the same time, you will be -- in the case of the Levine Reservoir -- destroying a significant contributing asset to hallowed ground once traversed by Alexander Hamilton and George Washington. And you have simply not given serious examination to alternatives."

Guarasci also complained to the commissioners about meeting agendas not being posted in a timely fashion.

The water commissioners responded with reassurances that public meetings will take place and announced they have formed a commission and expect to begin meeting with residents and non-profit groups in the coming weeks.

One commissioner, Rigo Sanchez of Passaic, said those meetings will be happening soon, but he expressed skepticism that some people -- namely, the community development non-profit -- already had its mind made up.

"We want to make sure who has an agenda and who has a legitimate concern," Sanchez said.

Meanwhile, another non-profit group, the Paterson Historic Preservation Commission, has set a meeting for 6:30 p. …

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