For years the Lee’s Park pavilion was a Howard Boulevard landmark (either applauded or ridiculed) with its yellow siding and “Good Eats” in huge lettering.
The building was the anchor of a private marina until the Lee family donated the property to the Morris County Park Commission in 1994. Now the marina is busy but the building is used mostly for storage.
That will change, Park Commission Executive Director Dave Helmer told the Lake Hopatcong Commission at its Tuesday, October 13 meeting.
An early project to improve the marina and protect the lake involves improving the storm water management system.
A $495,000 grant is allowing the park commission to direct stormwater to five bioretention basins for the reduction of phosphorus, nitrogen, total suspended solids and other pollutants. In addition, eight stormwater inlets will be retrofitted with manufactured treatment devices. Added vegetation will also help with runoff, Helmer said. He noted adding vegetation requires maintenance but will improve the aesthetics of the area.
Helmer’s PowerPoint presentation showed a collapsed storm drain. He said others were also in bad shape. One of the storm water structures runs through the basement of the pavilion, he added.
Improving traffic circulation in preparation for reopening the pavilion requires a circulation plan that incorporates the former trailer park on the hill going up from the lake to the borough center.
There were 20 residential trailers when the Lees gave the property to the county. The residential area was subdivided from the main portion of the park. Two trailers remain. Helmer explained the park commission pays taxes on the 1.06 acres that contain the trailers. The trailers were served with sewer, water, and gas, he said.
Because of access and parking for the trailers, there is already impervious surface on the hill. Helmer said the net increase in impervious cover will be negligible. Much of the impervious surface is stone dust and compacted gravel. A lot of the parking area on the lot where the trailers were will be pervious pavers, he said.
“They come with maintenance,” Helmer said of the pavers, but there will be a seasonal staff on site, he added.
Helmer is anticipating an interlocal agreement with Jefferson Township to use a sophisticated cleaning machine for the stormwater structures.
The historic preservation firm of Connolly and Hickey is assisting with plans for the pavilion which is eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Preservation.
Helmer said the park commission will keep the original vernacular structure and remove from modern additions. He said about 50% of the design is complete. He is waiting for structural, mechanical and electrical plans.
A catering kitchen and warming stations will make the building attractive for events such as weddings, reunions and other parties, as well as meetings. Capacity will be 137 with tables and chairs and 294 in a meeting format.
“It’s a very flexible floor plan,” Helmer said, adding the park commission is providing ADA access.
He anticipates the final design by the end of the year and to go out to bid in early 2021. Besides the grant money, funds have been set aside by the park commission since 2013.
Lake Commissioner Fred Steinbaum asked if the Mountain Lakes Rowing Club could use the basement of the pavilion for storage.
“It’s not code height and it’s very wet,” Helmer said of the basement. He added to make the basement useful the park commission would have to dig it out and add fire suppressant.
Other buildings along Howard Boulevard may be removed, he added.
Helmer acknowledged the Lake Hopatcong Foundation would love to see a boat washing station at the park but neither washing nor heavy boat maintenance will be allowed. He said the Foundation could try to find another safe location nearby to wash the boats.
Foundation Board President Marty Kane said the group remains interested in boat washing.
“It’s the only effective way to keep water chestnuts out of the lake,” he said.
The final plans will be submitted to both the Mount Arlington Land Use Board and the Lake Commission, Helmer said.