BRICK – The Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority (BTMUA) announced on their website that the 1.6 mile walking path surrounding the reservoir would have a limited reopening on March 17 after being closed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The walking path that lines the reservoir’s perimeter is a popular spot with walkers and runners.
Users have been asking the township administration on social media when the path would reopen, but Mayor John G. Ducey has stated on numerous occasions that the township does not have control over the facility since it is owned by the BTMUA.
March 4, 2020 marked the first case of a reported coronavirus case in New Jersey. On March 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order that ordered residents to stay at home and businesses to close amid the public health crisis.
At the time, Executive Director of the BTMUA Chris A. Theodos said the reservoir would close to the public for safety and social distancing purposes, and the staff there could not control the sanitizing of common areas. There was no mechanism in place to monitor social distancing or to ensure that people would not congregate in large groups, he said.
While the reservoir offers some “park-like activities,” the 120-acre site is not a traditional park and requires additional protections that are not necessarily required of traditional parks since it is primarily a secure water reservoir and a source of safe drinking water, Theodos said.
Since then, most parks have reopened in New Jersey, but the reservoir has remained closed.
“We have always been committed to enforcing the requirements as outlined by the governor and his Executive Orders,” wrote Theodos in a recent email dated March 8. “As the state has loosened its restrictions, we are happy to allow public access to the reservoir on a limited basis. All current safety requirements will be enforced.”
Signs will be posted to enforce COVID-19 restrictions, such as the requirement for social distancing, mask wearing where designated, and other requirements, he said.
While the BTMUA does not intend to police the activity of those using the reservoir, any staff that witnesses unsafe behavior would notify the authorities and the individuals would be asked to leave, he said.
The decision to reopen the walking path is based on science, Theodos added, and as the pandemic information changes, the BTMUA will be monitoring their public access policy periodically to ensure they are following the science and guidance from the state.
Special use permits for groups and organized events will continue to be prohibited, he added.
The Brick reservoir is located in the northwest corner of the township where it shares a border with Wall. The reservoir supplies drinking water to Brick Township, the Ramtown section of Howell Township, Point Pleasant Beach, and supplements the water supply for Point Pleasant Boro and Lakewood.
The reservoir, which was an abandoned sand and gravel mining pit, is located on Sally Ike and Herbertsville Road. It has the highest elevation in the township at 105 feet above sea level, allowing the stored water to flow by gravity to the BTMUA water treatment plant.
Construction on the reservoir was a 10- year project that began in April of 1992. The walking path around its perimeter was the final piece of the project, which was completed about 16 years ago.
During the limited reopening, the walking path will be accessible through the north entrance only, and parking will be available in the lot on Sally Ike Road, near the Wall Township border.
The walking path will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.