Save Lake of the Lilies, a Point Pleasant Beach group separate from Save Barnegat Bay, has formed in order to pursue restoration of what was once one of the shore’s premier pristine natural jewels — legendary for fishing, wildlife, and rare botanical species.
– Vist Save Lake of the Lillies on the web.
Save Lake of the Lilies an organization separate from Save Barnegat Bay, has filed suit against Point Pleasant Beach to attempt to get the township to restore Lake of the Lilies.
Lake of the Lilies is hydrologically connected to Barnegat Bay via the water table and Twilight Lake in Bay Head.
The lake’s problems in many ways encapsulate those of Barnegat Bay — not enough conserved open space in its watershed; excess nutrients from fertilizer and other human uses severely damaging the ecosystem; inadequate treatment of stormwater runoff.
Lake of the lawsuit.
Lake’s health spurs suit
Posted by the Ocean County Observer on 11/2/06
BY CHRIS LUNDY
POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Residents living near the Lake of the Lilies are suing the borough, claiming the lake’s health is deteriorating because the borough has not dredged it.
The lake has been the subject of several public discussions. The majority wants it restored but disagree over cost, effectiveness and environmental results of plans.
One issue is the phragmites australis, reeds that grow around the lake. Some have cut them down to provide a better view, while others argue the reeds keep geese away, are a habitat for other animals and stop erosion.
Save Lake of the Lilies, a nonprofit corporation, and residents Frank and Barbara Costa filed a complaint Tuesday against the borough for failing to dredge the lake.
The ownership of the lake is divided between the borough and 11 private owners.
The borough acquired the lake in 1974 from George Makin by a deed executed in 1965 which states the lake should be maintained in “a healthy condition for use and enjoyment of the wildlife of the area, and the spiritual, moral and psychic enrichment of the people of the community.”
According to the complaint, the lake’s depth, originally, 5 to 6 feet, is now closer to 1 foot.
The complaint cited a 2000 study done by Bay Pointe Engineering, now Schoor-DePalma, that recommended dredging. However, in February, a Schoor DePalma study recommended removing the phragmites with herbicides and mowing.
The plaintiffs assert the borough violated the Makin deed, making agreements that don’t include the 11 landowners, and disregarding the first study that recommended dredging. They also claim the borough violated New Jersey Open Public Meeting Act by discussing an agreement with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife in an executive session.
They seek the invalidation of the resolution and legal fees.
“What my clients want to know is why is the municipality seemingly turning a blind eye to what needs to be done?” asked attorney Stuart Lieberman.
“They’ve known for quite a long time they have to dredge,” he said. “Why is it they are only working on aesthetic issues?”
He cited fish kills in the last five years and the borough’s proposal to remove the vegetation and install concrete sidewalks and viewing platforms.
Mayor Thomas Vogel said the borough is still in the process of learning what the residents want, a process that will be harmed by this suit.
Meetings have been held to elicit public feedback and studies have been performed to determine facts in the matter, he said.
“It’s disheartening this will limit the ability of others to come to the table and talk,” he said.
The borough filed for a permit with the U.S. Department of Fish and Game to cut vegetation, which could include the reeds, he said. The resolution was required by the DEP so there would be an agency to advise the borough on the matter.
“(The suit is) a waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “This money is needed to tackle projects like this and instead it’s wasted on legal matters.”
Here’s Save Lake of the Lilies’ Release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATED: October 30, 2006
GROUP FILES LAWSUIT TO SAVE LAKE
Save Lake of the Lillies, a citizens’ group of local residents, filed suit today against the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach. The group seeks to compel the Borough to dredge Lake of the Lillies and restore it to its natural state.
Lake of the Lillies, a freshwater lake located just 150 yards from the ocean, has in recent years become silted up and polluted from stormwater runoff, pesticides and nutrients. The lake is now only about one foot deep and badly in need of dredging before it fills in completely. Plans for dredging have been on the table for years, but now the Borough is changing course, spending $100,000 instead on a controversial beautification plan to remove the reeds and put in concrete sidewalks.
Beth Gaelick, lakeside homeowner for thirteen years, and founding member of Save Lake of the Lillies said “I love Lake of the Lillies and it’s breaking my heart to watch it die. There have been so many awful disasters recently: massive fish kills, old turtles found dead, mature trees cut down, children getting rashes, a hazardous gasoline leak. When the wildlife and environment suffer, we all lose. My family and I will do anything we can to get this lake dredged and bring it back to life.”
Stuart Lieberman, attorney for Save Lake of the Lillies, added “This lake is a beautiful natural resource which the Borough has allowed to be virtually destroyed. Now is the time for action to save this beautiful lake before it is lost for the ages.”
Lieberman & Blecher is one of New Jersey’s largest citizen group law firms and has represented community groups and practices environmental law, toxic tort litigation, land use and real estate throughout New Jersey and surrounding states. Mr. Lieberman can be contacted at 732-355-1311 (office) and 609-529-6557 (cell).