Freeholder Anthony Vainieri, State Sen. Nicholas Sacco, and Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for the start of a $4 million project to replace Woodcliff Lake in James J. Braddock Park in North Bergen. Hudson County's capital improvement fund, which comes from taxpayers in each town, will finance the project, which comes after the freeholders approved a contract with Flanagan Contracting Group to handle the work.
The effort, which should be completed by Oct. 1 according to Vainieri, will completely rehabilitate the lake and its surrounding parts.
Officials said that the lake walls have been deteriorating, and they’ve been doing “patch jobs” for 20 years.
“We're doing the whole, entire lake.” -- Anthony Vainieri
“This project has to be done,” Vainieri said. “We can't keep patching it. That's the whole thing. We keep thinking it's safe to put band-aids on it; we're wasting money. The water is deteriorating. This is what we have to do. It's like taking care of your house when you're home.”
“We're doing the whole, entire lake. We're replacing the whole path around the lake. New benches, new trash receptacles, we're cleaning up the island [in the middle of the lake] a little bit.”
Various animals live in the lake, including types of turtles and fish.
Originally, to restore the lake wall, officials wanted to completely drain it first. However, Vainieri, refused to allow that to happen, knowing that the wildlife that live there rely on the water.
“Whatever's there has to live,” he said. “They wanted to shut the whole lake down 100 percent. I said, 'Absolutely not.'”
Instead, workers will drain part of the lake and work in phases. For the first phase, workers will repair and upgrade one section of the lake and path, leaving the other side open to parkgoers. For the second phase, workers will focus on the other section.
Though the lake’s wall has received numerous repairs over the past 20 years, this will be its first complete restoration, Vainieri said.
Speaking on the renovations, Senator Sacco said, “Park improvements are always welcome but this four million dollar investment in the Woodcliff Lake area by the county is especially appreciated because it adds both beauty and functionality for residents. I want to thank County Executive DeGise and Freeholder Vainieri for making it happen.”
The 167-acre Braddock Park is named after former heavyweight boxing champion James Braddock, who died in North Bergen in 1974.
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