Local and state officials held a “soft” reopening for Woodcliff Lake in North Bergen’s Braddock Park Nov. 27, showing off a new walking path, benches, receptacles, and other utilities.
A fence was placed around the lake during construction and will remain until the lake is filled with water. Officials are hoping that rainwater fills the lake, but are pursuing other options.
Besides adding new features, the county replaced the lake’s brick retaining wall with a concrete wall that should last for around 100 years, according to Freeholder Anthony Vainieri, one of the park’s largest proponents.
The work also cleaned the lake’s island. Hudson County’s capital improvement fund financed the $4 million project.
Joining Vainieri at the reopening were State Sen. (and North Bergen Mayor) Nicholas Sacco, U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, County Executive Tom DeGise, North Bergen Parking Authority Director Bob Baselice, and County Deputy Director of Parks and Community Services Tom Deleo.
“This is a great addition to the park,” Sacco said. “The wall was crumbling. We were all walking around it and wondering when it would be repaired. The answer is now. I’m really proud of what Anthony [Vainieri]’s done with this park.”
“I’ve been around this park for a long time, and it has never looked better,” Sires said. “You look at the tennis courts, they’re done, the handballs, kiddie park. And now the lake and people can walk around. This is just a great day to be here, and it’s not even that cold.”
Though he admits he is a “Jersey City boy.” DeGise said that “this park is distinctive because of the lake. This is different from any other park. I remember, as a kid, coming up here for a fishing derby. This brought things to city kids that they had never seen before. We will continue to upgrade our parks.”
After the ceremony, Vainieri mentioned that the county is looking at possibly filling the lake with water from other natural resources, with help from the state Department of Agriculture.
“This is a man-made natural lake,” he said. “It’s supposed to be natural water. Right now, it’s supposed to get filled with rainwater, but if we can get a way to get water in here that’s natural, to fill it up, to expedite it, we’ll be okay.”
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