FAIR HAVEN WARMS TO POND OFFER

Schwenker’s Pond, on River Road, empties into Shippee’s Pond and then the Navesink River. The long-vacant Doremus house, below, was demolished earlier this month. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

doremus-houseThe last time developer David Carr tried giving Schwenker’s Pond to Fair Haven, borough officials pretty much told him to go jump in it.

Then-Mayor Mike Halfacre and the borough council, citing cleanup costs and other potential liabilities, rejected the offer.

But that was seven years ago. Today, the borough appears far more receptive to the offer.

fh doremus 121013The site during demolition of the house earlier this month. (Click to enlarge)

Earlier this month, the borough planning board granted unanimous approval to a plan to subdivide the onetime Doremus estate on River Road, with the pond and a feeder brook to the south constituting a single lot. Two single-family homes are to be built on the westerly side of the pond, site of the long-vacant former home of Olga Schwenker Doremus.

Filings on the plan anticipated that Carr would deed the pond and a swath of pondside land 80 feet wide to the borough. They account for 4.5 acres of the 5.8-acre total. The offer would have to be ratified by the borough council, possibly at the first meeting following the January 1 reorganization.

With the potential to have a walking trail along the pond, “we’re very excited” about the offer, Mayor Ben Lucarelli tells redbankgreen?

So what’s changed since 2007?

“I guess this governing body just views it differently,” he said. “We’re looking at it as an asset.”

Lucarelli said locals, who use the pond as a fishing hole, already consider the site a public park. As for the downside of ownership, he said, “I don’t see it.”

The donation was discussed in executive session of the council, and “I think it’s fair to say that most members of the governing body are favorable” to the suggestion, he said. “It’s not that often that a developer conveys this type of property to a municipality.”

In addition to the pond itself, Carr is “giving us some prime real estate,” Lucarelli said for a trail that would reach back to Glen Place to the south.

The pond, part of a watershed that extends as far west as Tower Hill in Red Bank, empties into privately owned Shippee’s Pond, on the north side of River Road, and thence into the Navesink River.

Under the proposed deal, Carr would remove dead trees along the pond’s bank, Lucarelli said.

The changes may also eliminate a problem for the town. After Doremums died in 2004, her 3,700-square-foot house became an occasional attractive nuisance for teens.