News

Community Torn Over Dam Proposal In New Jersey Reservation

NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) – In a controversial proposal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to build a dam in a pristine New Jersey reservation to alleviate flooding in several nearby towns.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported Thursday, businesses and neighbors slammed by one flood after another welcome the proposal, while others say it will destroy the wildlife and the beauty of the park.

Hurricane Irene sent flood waters into homes in Cranford, crippling the New Jersey town. And Hurricane Floyd wreaked havoc in Millburn, especially downtown.

“It devastated us, destroyed us for six months because people didn’t want to come into town,” said business owner Marty Goldberg.

Goldberg’s bagel shop was submerged under 10 feet of water, so was the Tinga Mexican Restaurant nearby, Sloan reported.

Now, the Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a study to see if building a dam in Essex County’s South Mountain Reservation, right through the Diamond Mill Pond, could alleviate some of the flooding in the towns along the Rahway River Basin.

Essex County Executive Joe DiVencenzo said the proposed dam will harm wildlife and take away from the beauty of the historic, 2,000-acre park.

DiVencenzo said the plan calls for building the dam over Brookside Drive, which is a major thoroughfare with a tunnel under it, Sloan reported.

The Army Corps said the 800-foot-long damn would help hold water in a detention basin.

DiVencenzo argues why the corps hasn’t considered other less expensive options, such as dredging.

“It’s going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. I know 60 percent paid by the federal government, the other 40 percent will be paid by taxpayers of Essex County,” DiVencenzo said.

A dam actually coming to fruition at the reservation, or even a proposal for a dam being approved is ways down the road since major environmental and economic studies are being done, Sloan reported.

The mayors of Cranford and Millburn reportedly support the plan. Neither have returned CBS 2’s calls for comment.

Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com: