A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

History: Planning for Two New Dams in Matawan, 1921

According to The Asbury Park Press, Matawan and Monmouth County will be splitting the multimillion dollar cost of replacing the dams at Lake Lefferts and Lake Matawan. The county has also committed $2 million for work on Ravine Drive at Lake Lefferts.

The NJ DEP declared the dams unsafe back in 2001 and mandated repairs be made. Back in 2006, Matawan estimated the cost of repairs at $32 million. The DEP has extended the Borough a $16 million line of credit, which would be half of the $32 million figure, so I'm not sure why the APP suggests a total cost of $8 million to replace the two dams.

On this occasion, I dug back in local newspapers and found an early article discussing the planning for these dams back in the 1920s. The Borough's two lakes were formed as a result of the construction of these dams and expectations were high that the lakes would increase the population, bring new business, and help split the cost of running the municipality. I will post additional articles about the dams and lakes over time.

Plan to Build Dam at Middlesex Road and Another Later at Main Street Near Station.

The citizens will remember at a public meeting called by the Matawan Lake Committee about a year ago the matter of building a lake in Matawan was thoroughly discussed. It was thought advisable at that time to construct one dam near the railroad trestle giving to the borough one large lake. Although the question of the advisability at that time of constructing a dam at the Peter Heyer bridge on the Middlesex Road, and another at the foot of Main Street near the railroad station was discussed.

Because of lack of funds necessary to construct a large dam a new movement is being put in action to construct a dam at Middlesex Road and also to construct another dam at Main Street near the Matawan station as soon as the town shall be sewered, it not being advisable to construct a dam at that point at this time because so many sewers empty into the ravine on that side of the town. The lake committee and some of the citizens have met the Board of Freeholders and held conferences with the members of the Township Committee and members of the Borough Council, all of which conferences have been informal.

Those who have discussed this proposition have promised their cooperation and financial assistance. The Board of Freeholders contemplate building a new bridge at that point, widening the road, which in effect will raise the road bed about eight feet. By building a dam at this point, there will form a lake on that side of town about a mile long and from one-fourth to one- [missing text] [engin]eer is now preparing plans and specifications for the erection of the dam in question which will be of concrete construction and have provision for emptying the entire body of water or the excess in times of freshets. The property holders along the lake have promised financial assistance and a lake at that point now seems assured.

Any citizens wishing to co-operate and assist in this project and to know more of the detail of the plans and construction of this lake and the benefits to be derived may get information from Christian Heuser, president of the Lake Committee, who is doing his utmost to make a success of the project. It is thought by constructing this dam as a tryout to see whether or not a body of water will be of benefit to the town and, if so, the building of the larger dam at the railroad trestle will then be an easier proposition than at this time.

The slogan at this time is: Do what we can and do it now, and net the benefits thereby. If the. population of Matawan is to be increased by this improvement, there will be more people to pay the taxes and the tax rate will be reduced. The butcher, the grocer and the candlestick maker will have more trade and reap the benefits; the doctor, the lawyer, the dentist and the builder will all come in for their share of the business developed by the increased population. Again it means a boating and tennis club; it means that we are going to get out of the rut. It stands for progress. Let everybody put his shoulder to the wheel.

Source: Matawan Journal, 10 March 1921, front page


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