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Group: Dam Threatens Historic South Mountain Reservation

Coalition believes dam will destroy 110 acres of wildlife.

Submitted by Save Our Reservation:

Save Our Reservation, a coalition of concerned citizens focused on protecting the historic South Mountain Reservation, a nature preserve designed by the Olmsted family in the early 20th century, today announced the support of a wide-range of elected leaders and local towns opposed to the construction of a 75-foot high, 810-foot wide dam across the Rahway River in the southern section of the park in Essex County. The US Army Corps of Engineers has proposed the dam for flood abatement for areas downriver from the parkland. USACE has issued a Rahway River Basin Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study that includes seven flood risk management alternatives.

Among those who have voiced opposition to the proposed dam, which would destroy over 110 acres of the park, are:

In addition, nearly 4,000 residents from towns around the reservation have signed an  on-line petition opposed to the dam and suggesting alternatives that would cost less, protect towns prone to flooding and preservation the reservations, along with threatened wildlife.

Save Our Reservation finds that the construction of the proposed dam and the associated 110-acre dry detention basin is misguided and would irreparably damage the treasured century-old South Mountain Reservation. The group hopes to provide an alternative perspective and champion a more balanced, equitable approach to flood solutions along the Rahway River watershed.

“The community is alarmed by the proposal to put a 75-foot high dam in South Mountain Reservation, especially because damming only the west branch of the Rahway River is likely to affect too little of the total river flow to prevent the most serious flooding downstream. The damage to the Reservation would be irreparable without solving the flooding problems,” said Fred Profeta, chair of the Save Our Reservation organization and the former mayor of Maplewood. “We are asking the US Army Corps of Engineers to engage in a more open process and seek better input from the public about the plans.

“The potential for flooding downstream the Rahway River is a serious issue and should be addressed. However, it can’t come at the expense of destroying a natural resource such as South Mountain Reservation and reducing the quality of life for Essex County residents,” said Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., Essex County executive.

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