Home Jersey City Portions of Jersey City Heights’ Reservoir #3 Expected to Open this Summer

Portions of Jersey City Heights’ Reservoir #3 Expected to Open this Summer

by Eva Reid
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Jersey City’s Reservoir #3 has been the subject of much discussion and consternation among neighbors and community leaders. The reservoir dates back to the 1870s and is listed on the state and national Register of Historic Places. But this piece of beauty and history has been decaying since the late 1990s. In 2021, Jersey City leaders committed to restoring the reservoir and the surrounding park. Now, local leaders expect some portions of the park to be open to pedestrians come summer 2024. Read on for more about the latest updates on Jersey City Reservoir #3. 

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About the Reservoir 

The Reservoir was built in the 1870s and $6 million has gone into this project to maintain the historic pumphouse and to provide for the renovations. The goal of the renovations is for Jersey City residents and visitors to be able to access this beautiful place. 

According to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, Reservoir 3 is a local treasure. According to the Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance (JCRPA), the consequence of not saving the Reservoir is that the 13 acres that the Reservoir could be sold off due to a budget gap and a parking garage, high-rise, school, or another unnecessary space could be put in place of the Reservoir.  The JCRPA is a citizen-led advocacy group working on behalf of the reservoir. The group has identified several historically significant architectural elements in the now-ruined buildings, in addition to working with the City to rehabilitate the park. 

The Construction Process

Construction began on April 17th, 2021 to create safe public access, expand the reservoir perimeter trail, and include new fencing and lighting for safety. Since Berry Lane Park, Reservoir 3 will be the biggest park investment.

Read More: $2 Millon Riverview-Fisk Park Renovation in Jersey City Complete

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At the start of the project in 2021, Mayor Fulop shared his thoughts on this historic construction. “After nearly 30 years of discussion with no one taking necessary action, today we are committing the necessary resources to bring us to this critical turning point. We will restore this one-of-a-kind local treasure to its fullest potential for residents and visitors to enjoy while properly preserving its rich history and environmental assets,” he said. 

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Photo Credit: City of Jersey City

To get the project underway, Jersey City contributed $3 Million to the cost of the construction. The first $1 Million has been provided by the Jersey City Open Space Trust Fund and $2 Million in grants has been given to Jersey City by the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund, New Jersey Historic Trust Grant, and Green Acres Grant to provide funding for the preservation and modernization project.

Restoration of the reservoir and the land around it involved preserving the original pumphouses that haven’t operated for the past thirty years. After the site’s safety improvements have been made, the restoration phase will begin. 

These improvements fit in with Jersey City’s overall attempt to develop inclusive, open space for its residents, as well as residents who use motorized mobility devices and people using strollers. These devices cannot be used on the existing trails, but widening the trail from eighteen to 48 inches will increase access. 

2024 Update

In March 2024, construction began on one of the most wished-for improvements in the park, the Jefferson Avenue walkway bridge. Per The Jersey City Times, improvement and expansion of the walking path will be key to more visitors being able to access the park. And, it will allow for park maintenance vehicles to more easily access parts of the park. At the time, the forecasted time frame for opening the bridge was 30 to 60 days. 

Ward D Councilman Yusuf Saleh shared an update via his Facebook page, highlighting the work that’s been completed this spring.” After a few more safety improvements, making the area accessible to all residents, this amazing space will be ready for the public to enjoy in early June,” the caption read. 

The Project’s Team

Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano shared his thanks to those involved in the project and remembered Councilman Michael Yun who sadly passed away.

“I would like to thank Vernon Richardson and all the residents for their input and dedication in seeing the reservoir is preserved,” said Boggiano. “We are lucky to have this natural oasis in the heart of Jersey City, and I have no doubt my friend and colleague, the late Councilman Michael Yun, who helped bring us to this point, would agree that this is a proud moment as we are able to finally give the reservoir the upgrades it deserves.” 

Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh also discussed his excitement about the renovations and thanked those who are helping with the process.

“Reservoir 3 is the crown jewel of the Jersey City Heights, and this groundbreaking is a first step and a necessary investment towards making Reservoir 3 a safe, accessible park open for all to enjoy,” said Saleh. “It is the culmination of efforts from Councilman Boggiano, Mayor Fulop, the late Councilman Michael Yun, the Reservoir Alliance, and the overall community that we are able to achieve and enjoy this historic moment together.”

 


 

Given that safety is a top priority for the project, Jersey City worked hard to figure out the type of lighting that would give the safest illumination to the project that would least disturb wildlife and the surrounding neighborhood.

Paula Mahayosnand, President of the Jersey City Parks Coalition, is glad that JCPC is a part of the project and enjoys working with the team that is taking on the project.

“The Jersey City Parks Coalition would like to recognize the collaboration between Mayor Fulop’s Administration and the Reservoir Preservation Alliance for their ability to come together and mutually agree on much-needed safety features and a design that integrates strong community input in preserving the Reservoir’s landscape and environment elements as part of its natural design. JCPC is pleased to be part of the process and celebrates the work and progress made as part of the City’s initial stage to open the reservoir to residents. This groundbreaking represents a strong starting point for both groups and promotes future opportunities for community engagement as well as JCPC’s mission to ensure this dialogue continues.” shared Mahayosnand.

Jersey City also is responsible for maintaining retaining walls of the reservoir where stones are being displaced by invasive vegetation into the right of way. This has resulted in the students and staff of PS 26 and St. Joseph’s School for the Blind detouring around the roadway. Accordingly, the City underscored that it will develop a planting plan. In January 2021, it hired Earthbilt, a Jersey City company owned by Tim Keating, a Jersey City Heights resident, to create an appropriate planting plan for the project. 

Sarah Burroughs, Board President of the Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance stressed the alliance’s dedication and strong support to preserve and create an inclusive accessible space for residents. 

“For the past 15 years, the Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance has dedicated their time and resources to preserve the ecosystems and historic structures of Reservoir #3 and to establish the site as a public park and wildlife sanctuary,” said Burroughs. “The Alliance strongly supports efforts to create an inclusive and immersive natural space that is accessible to all while providing recreational opportunities for Jersey City residents like hiking, fishing, and kayaking. We look forward to continuing to work with the City to ensure the community has a voice in the current plans to, at long last, open this urban oasis and national landmark on a regular, ongoing basis.” 

See More: 24 New Jersey Parks You Must Visit This Summer

Richard Peters, Boy Scouts Troop 466 Leader stated his troops support of the renovation.

“Scouts BSA Troop 466 sees Jersey City Reservoir 3 as an invaluable neighborhood reservoir of educational and recreational opportunities, which melds perfectly with a primary goal of our troop, combining education and recreation,” shared Peters. 

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