CLARK—Mayor Sal Bonaccorso and Freeholders Angel G. Estrada and Nancy Ward announced that Clark Township has formally transferred ownership of the Clark Reservoir to Union County on Feb. 20.
Totaling 150 acres of rare undeveloped open space in one of the most densely populated counties in New Jersey, the Clark Reservoir and its surrounding shore will become part of the 6,600-acre Union County Parks System.
“The residents of Clark have much to celebrate,” said Bonaccorso. “We took the initiative to save the reservoir from development, and we are looking forward to working with the county to improve and enhance its use by the public. We want to thank the county for their continued interest in all Clark Township projects.”
“Union County has been a leader in land preservation, and I am very grateful that we have the opportunity to continue this tradition,” said Estrada. “The Clark Reservoir is a significant addition to our public parks.”
“We are truly fortunate that Union County residents recognized a unique treasure in the midst of our highly urbanized area,” said Ward, who is also chairwoman of the Union County Open Space, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. “This beautiful natural resource, which was once destined to be developed, has been preserved for all the public to enjoy.”
The Clark Reservoir was built in 1907 along the Robinson’s Branch of the Rahway River. It fell into disuse by the early 1990s. To prevent the property from being drained and sold, Clark Township took ownership of the reservoir. A conservation easement was established to protect the surrounding shoreline from development forever.
The decision to transfer the property from Clark Township to Union County was based on the need to ensure maintenance and upkeep of the large parcel of land.
The county’s acquisition of the Clark Reservoir was made possible by the Union County Open Space, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. Approved by referendum in 2000, the Trust Fund has far exceeded its initial ten-year goal of preserving 100 acres of open space. Including the Clark Reservoir, well over 300 acres have been acquired so far.
The newly preserved acreage includes the St. Agnes property on Madison Hill Road in Clark and the former Schwarz Farm on Old Raritan Road straddling Clark and Westfield.
With these, the county has assembled a continuous greenway that links the Clark Reservoir with other parks and newly preserved land, including the Esposito Farm Park in Clark, the Hazelwood Cemetery in Clark, and Milton Lake in Rahway.
Greenways were a fundamental part of the original design of the Union County parks system, dating back to the 1920s. The Olmstead Brothers, the same firm that designed New York’s Central Park, envisioned continuous natural pathways along the county’s streams and rivers.
In addition to their public recreation and conservation roles, the greenways also serve as natural, low-cost storm drainage systems.
Transfer of Ownership—Union County Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada (5th R) and Freeholders (from 4th left to right) Deborah Scanlon, Nancy Ward, Chester Holmes and Bette Jane Kowalski present Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso (center) and (from left) Clark Councilman Richard Kazanowski, Councilman Al Barr, Councilman Pat O’Connor, Council President Brian Toal and Councilwoman Sheila Whiting with a symbolic dollar during a ceremony marking the formal transfer of ownership of the Clark Reservoir to Union County from Clark Township. Totaling 150 acres of rare undeveloped open space in one of the most densely populated counties in New Jersey, the Clark Reservoir and its surrounding shore will become part of the 6,600-acre Union County Parks System. (Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)