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Picnic Area, Paddle Boating Latest Addition to South Mountain

Essex County officials cut ribbon at Orange Reservoir.

Paddle Boats at South Mountain Reservation Credit: Craig McCarthy
Paddle Boats at South Mountain Reservation Credit: Craig McCarthy
Essex County South Mountain Reservation got a new addition Friday. 

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced Friday the paddle boating dock and picnic pavilion at the Orange Reservoir for the public to use the open air pavilion for picnicking and take a paddle boat onto the water.

"The opening of the picnic pavilion and introduction of paddle boats into the water will provide the public with new opportunities to enjoy the amazing vistas, beautiful waterway and magnificent open space,” DiVincenzo said. “With Turtle Back Zoo, miniGOLF Safari, Boathouse Restaurant, Codey Arena and the revamped Treetop Adventure Course soon to open nearby, the Reservoir is an ideal extension to our popular South Mountain Recreation Complex."

The public will be able to rent paddle boats seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Rates are $14 for a two-person boat for a half hour and $18 for a four-person boat for a half hour. 

Other elected officials shared their support for the project and what a great recreational resource the improved site will be for the community.

“This is another great project by Joe DiVincenzo,” West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi said. “West Orange and Essex County are forever intertwined because of the facilities they have in our township. The upgrades that he has made at the South Mountain Recreation Complex have enhanced our community."

Also representing West Orange was Councilwoman Patty Spango.
“This is another great project by Joe DiVincenzo,” West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi said. “West Orange and Essex County are forever intertwined because of the facilities they have in our township. The upgrades that he has made at the South Mountain Recreation Complex have enhanced our community.”

Improvements made to the Orange Reservoir site include the construction of a 30-by-60 foot, open-air pavilion for picnics and special events, a floating dock to accommodate access to the waterway for paddle boats, a restroom building and boat rental booth, and the reconstruction of the Oakdale parking lot located across Cherry Lane from the reservoir property.

The pavilion is designed with a log cabin theme to match the architecture of the nearby McLoone’s Boathouse Restaurant. The area around the floating dock has nautical flags and sailing decorations. The area near the reservoir has walking paths with decorative lighting, benches, trash receptacles and be heavily landscaped.

At the roadway, a cut-out driveway allows motorists to safely park alongside Cherry Lane to drop off passengers. The Oakdale parking lot was upgraded with new pavement and drainage, a nearby storage building was removed, and a traffic light was installed at the parking lot entrance to enhance motor vehicle and pedestrian safety for those visiting the site.

In addition, a sidewalk linking the miniGOLF Safari/McLoone’s Restaurant parking lot to the Reservoir and decorative fencing with columns that match fencing at Turtle Back Zoo and the miniGOLF Safari were installed along Cherry Lane, and an old chain link fence, fallen and dead trees, and brush were removed from the wooded area along the waterway.

Essex County and the City of Orange entered into a 20-year lease agreement over the property in October 2012. According to the terms of the partnership, Essex County will pay a total of $1.6 million to Orange to lease the Reservoir property and will be responsible for all costs to maintain and develop the site for public recreation.
CJV July 22, 2013 at 07:53 PM
The pavillion and paddleboat dock are a vile stain upon an otherwise beautiful part of the reservation.
Lori July 28, 2013 at 08:12 AM
It's nice to have this opportunity in West Orange. We previously rented paddle boats in Verona Park. Now I finally have a chance to view this beautiful scene. Previously I could only glance while driving by. I can't wait to take pictures in the fall when te sun is setting and you can see the reflection of the colorful trees on the water!
MSS July 28, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Paddle boating in Verona Park is about half this cost. Unless prices have gone up since last year, I paid $10 for a half an hour last spring.

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