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FAIR HAVEN: POND DEAL ON COUNCIL AGENDA

schwenkers-012315-500x375-6664085Schwenker’s Pond, on River Road. The long-vacant Doremus house, below, which overlooked the pond, was demolished in late 2013. Two new homes are planned for the site. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

doremus-house-220x165-7136344After years of limbo, a deal that would transfer ownership of Schwenker’s Pond in Fair Haven to the borough is expected to be sealed Monday night.

On the council’s agenda is a proposed developer’s agreement that Mayor Ben Lucarelli said will add to the town’s waterfront and open-space holdings.

“I’m of the belief that you only get one chance to make a piece of property public,” Lucarelli told redbankgreen last week.

Well, in this case, two.

A proposed path along Schwenker’s Pond would connect River Road and the neighborhood and school to the south. (Click to enlarge).

Developer David Carr offered the 1.5-acre pond and a strip of adjoining land to the borough in 2007, but then-Mayor Mike Halfacre rejected the offer, citing pond cleanup costs and potential liabilities.

Even Carr’s lawyer, Peter Falvo, agreed that the pond was a financial burden. He told redbankgreen at the time that Carr wanted to give it away in part because of the expense of cleaning up the pond, which is heavily silted over.

But Lucarelli, who succEeded Halfacre in February 2012, was receptive to the idea, in part because it would enable the town to create woody footpath linking River Road and the neighborhood to the south.

“For the western part of town, I think it’s going to be a great recreational facility, and really a great asset for that part of town,” he said. “It becomes a treasure for generations to come.”

Moreover, locals, who use the pond as a fishing hole, already consider it public property, he said. “It’s probably one of the better fishing holes in this area of Monmouth County,” he said.”But what they were doing was essentially trespassing.”

And the costs of clearing and maintaining the pond? “We’re still working on that,” said Lucarelli.

Under the agreement, the borough will obtain ownership of the pond and an easement to utilize about its western flank, as well as a vacant parcel on River Road where the town now has a “welcome to Fair Haven” sign posted. The developer will agree to install a stone-dust path about four feet wide along the pond’s edge, Lucarelli said.

The pond is part of a watershed that extends as far west as Tower Hill in Red Bank, and the borough has four storm-sewer pipes draining into the pond, which has contributed to the extensive silting condition that exists there.

Carr, who acquired the site after the death of Olga Schwenker Doremus in 2004, won approval for three building lots in December, 2013. But a local resident challenged the project, arguing that a black-crowned night heron had been seen nesting on the site. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which lists the bird as a threatened species, intervened, and Carr’s approval was later trimmed to two building lots, Lucarelli said.

Carr is now expected to sell the remaining property and his approval to build two homes there to homebuilder K. Shaw of Monmouth Beach, according to Falvo’s office. Builder Kenny Shaw was not available for comment Monday morning.

 

Here’s the full meeting agenda: FH Council agenda 012516

 

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