Water Main Seeks Green Acres Approval

Phase 2 of construction routes through the Oak Glen Water Treatment Plant on Squankum-Yellowbrook Road. (Photo by Sara Grillo)

HOWELL – New Jersey American Water is proposing a 34,000 linear feet of water transition main through Howell and Lakewood townships that, according to Maggie Wellins and Jill Marie from HDR Engineering, who were hired to design the project, will increase capacity of water distribution, enhance fire protection, improve system reliability and support future growth.

Phase 1 of the project is currently under construction, and Phase 2, which needs Green Acres approval, will commence in mid-2018 and will likely be completed by the end of that year.

Phase 1 starts on Apollo Road in Lakewood, and continues up through Lakewood Farmingdale Road, Oak Glen Road and Maxim Southard Road.

Phase 2 continues through Maxim Southard Road on to Preventorium Road, Old Tavern Road, the front of the Howell Department of Public Works facility, a piece of land owned by the Monmouth County Park System, Allaire State Park and the Oak Glen Water Treatment Plant.

A scoping hearing needed to be held because Phase 2 of construction requires installation of a transmission main within several Green Acres encumbered parcels.

The first parcel is a .49 acre, 20-foot-wide easement at Alfred C. Saur Park at Echo Lake, which is owned by the township, and requires installation using horizontal directional drilling to avoid surface impacts to the park. No permanent changes to the surface of the park are purposed, and only minor impacts with the drilling pits will occur, which will be restored to pre-construction conditions. No tree removal is required.

Alternative locations were considered, according to the project designers, but they faced Green Acres land on both sides of the road.

Another parcel includes two lots, one owned by the township, behind the recycling center at the Department of Public Works facility, and one owned by Monmouth County, just south of the Howell Park Golf Course. It is a.12 acre, 20-foot-wide, 250-feet-long easement that would have no impact on golf play, and would require an open cut trench with permanent and temporary tree removal.

Alternatives were considered, but a historical landfill on a nearby lot lies beneath the recycling center on the DPW grounds.

What Are The Benefits?

The water transition main proposed by New Jersey American Water needs approval from Green Acres to initiate Phase 2 of construction. (Photo by Sara Grillo)

Because a total of 119 trees will be removed from Green Acres parcels, north of the DPW site and south of the Howell Park Golf Course, a tree survey has been completed to determine the appropriate reimbursement for any trees greater than 6 inches in diameter at breast height in accordance with Green Acres regulations.

There is a calculation for tree replacement that figures out how many trees Howell will get back, but the benefit is that the township will get a greater number of trees that can be used within the community at other township parks.

“For the 119 trees that would be removed, it’s somewhere around 2,000 trees that would be replaced,” said Wellins of the Green Acres ratio. She warned that some of those trees would go to the county, too.

Director of Community Development Jim Herrman added that the number also depends on tree size. To replace one 16-inch diameter tree, you’d need many, smaller trees.

“It might take 40 trees to replace one 16- or 20-inch tree,” he said.

Instead of putting those trees back in the same location, behind the landfill or near the shooting range, because they can’t impact the water main, they can spruce up areas in Soldier Memorial Park, Deerwood Park or Hoffman Field, he said.

“Those other locations, logically, would be some of our other parks.”

Here’s some other benefits:

  • Optimal route to minimize traffic congestion during instillation.
  • Roads will be repaved after installation.
  • Improved water capacity and fire protection.
  • Redundancy in the water distribution system ensuring system reliability.

Castle Court resident Marc Parisi asked if the township had a long-term plan to provide water to residents on that street after the water main is installed. Herrman said the township will not be mandating any customers to hook up, and that it does not have any intention of installing sewer services to customers in Parisi’s area because they are on larger lots.

Councilman Robert Walsh asked if sewer service is available in the area, which Herrman said it is in the BJ’s lot, but that they haven’t thought about extending it. He said he looked into it about four years ago, but that the cost versus the rate of return was not worth it, based on the small number of residents that would actually hook up to it. Walsh and Mayor Theresa Berger both asked to explore it further, and if the numbers could be updated for the current year.

Other residents had concerns about helping Lakewood, and that Howell is getting nothing out of the deal.

“The water main is really a necessary thing for the growth that’s happened not only in Lakewood but in Howell,” said Herrman.

He went on to explain that when the project was initially presented by American Water, it was going to go down Route 547, and they would also need to shut down Route 549 at Route 195, which are all heavily trafficked roads. The way the route flows now, Maxim Southard and Oak Glen Roads are primarily affected, which are still highly trafficked roads, but not nearly as bad as Route 547.

Herrman also pointed out that over four miles of roadway will be repaved at no cost to the township once instillation is complete, and that New Jersey American Water will be brought into the DPW Building, Senior Center, Police Headquarters, Howell Library and Oak Glen Park, as well as provide less traffic headaches overall.

The next Howell Township meeting is Tuesday, October 17 at 7:30 p.m.