Harry Kumburis should get photo credit. It’s a shot of the Cedar Grove Reservoir property.
Cedar Grove Reservoir Property will be preserved as open space. According to Councilman Harry Kumburis, the land was in danger of potentially being developed.
Kumburis said the reservoir property was unprotected from development for many years and approximately four years ago he asked for it to be preserved. Now, he and fellow council members have had that day come to fruition. Over the course of those years since, he pushed to purchase the 53 acres between Ridge Road and Bowden Road to protect it and keep it in its natural state. It is eventually being placed in the Green Acres Trust.
The city of Newark owned the property and Newark Mayor Ras Baraku allowed its purchase by Cedar Grove. Kumburis said part of the purchase was funded by the township’s open space trust fund and the rest was bonded out.
“It’ll be under the Green Acres Trust so that it will remain in its natural state,” Kumburis explained. “It will have some improvements such as simple parking, meaning that no woods will be taken down because of any parking installment,”
He also said that some existing structures, such as buildings and garages, will be removed from the property, in order to allow the area to be left in its natural state.
Kumburis touted the importance of preserving the property consisting of several vernal pools, which are small, shallow wetlands that do not have permanent inlet or outlet of water flow.
“They are unique wetland habitats because they help support amphibian population in the northeast, and are critical to our environment,” he explained, adding that the property also boasts large groves of pine trees and cedar trees, including an abundance of mammals such as deer, turkeys and foxes and an occasional Black Bear. “It also includes some endangered wildlife such as red-headed woodpeckers and bald eagles.”
The reservoir projects through West Essex Trail, which stems through Francisco Avenue in Little Falls and onto Verona High School. It lies adjacent to the Mills Reservation, a county park consisting of 157 acres and is a protected wooded area in Cedar Grove. The reservoir itself is protected by Essex County Parks Commission and includes major trails. Community parks, recreational areas and multiple trails are strewn along the West Essex Trail.
“I’m very happy about this acquisition to protect vital areas of open space,” Kumburis noted. “These vernal pools are vitally important because this property is close to the metropolitan area. Cedar Grove’s untapped resources are vital to the environment. It’s also an excellent place for our children to explore.”
Kumburis added the township was in the process of acquiring Rails-to-Trails grants in order to help upgrade the trails that run throughout the property.
“As council liaison to the Environmental Commission, myself and other members see this as a vitally important addition to our community,” he added.