By Elaine Van Develde
It’s time to talk about the fate of a 4.5-acre swath of open space in Fair Haven that borders and includes Schwenker’s Pond that was unofficially gifted to the borough last year.
The dedication of the portion of the 6-acre property, also known as the Schwenker-Doremus Estate that fronts River Road, will become official after a discussion of the proposed developers agreement that will seal the deal at tonight’s Borough Council meeting at 7 p.m.
So, officials are asking that anyone with interest in offering input on the agreement and acquisition speak up tonight.
The property, officials said, will not cost the borough any money.
The deal came to the forefront last year, after many years, after the home on the estate was demolished. Developer David Carr’s original plan to subdivide the estate and build three homes on it was shot down after a rare species, the black crowned night heron, was found to inhabit it.
Since then, in order to comply with protection of the wildlife and whittle down the development end to the building of two homes rather than three, Carr offered to dedicate ownership of the pond and bordering land — 80 feet from the road into the property on its east side to the west (toward Red Bank) — to the borough.
The plan, Mayor Ben Lucarelli had said last year, would be to construct a walking trail on the western edge of the estate. Carr had agreed to clear the trees there as part of the agreement.
The pond, which people always thought was public property, will officially be just that, with the borough, instead, retaining ownership, and it legally open for public use.
The site has long been a popular spot for fishing and skating.
Lucarelli was enthusiastic about the borough adding the Schwenker-Doremus plat to its inventory of passive and active recreational open space with the agreement.
Former Mayor Michael Halfacre was not, as he and others saw the liability of keeping the pond maintained an expense-laden headache. Lucarelli has not seen it that way. He has said he feels that any open space acquisition is a priceless one to benefit future generations.