ROXBURY, NJ - With a party at a lakeside restaurant, The Lake Hopatcong Foundation on Sunday showed its appreciation for a new law that provides $500,000 annually to preserve and maintain the state's largest lake.
The non-profit organization hosted the event at the Windlass Restaurant in Jefferson.
About 160 local business owners, residents, foundation members and local/state government officials gathered to thank the legislative delegation that promoted the “Lake Hopatcong Fund” bill. Boating and fishing on the lake have been threatened in recent years by persistent weed growth, preventing dock and boat use. Low water levels from sedimentation and droughts have disrupted recent boating seasons.
“This funding is crucial to ensure that people will be able to enjoy Lake Hopatcong for many years to come,” said state Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-25th Dist).
The new law was long sought by sponsors including Bucco, who also serves as Roxbury's township counsel. He, as well as state Senators Tony Bucco, Joseph Pennacchio and Steve Oroho, and other members of the delegation, attended Sunday’s event. Mayors from three of four municipalities bordering the lake were also in attendance.
“This is one of the most important things to ever happen to Lake Hopatcong, and because of it, the best is yet to come,” said Lake Hopatcong Foundation Chairman Marty Kane.
Roxbury Mayor Mark Crowley said he believes that this new bill will benefit Roxbury directly.
“Despite being one of the smaller lakeside areas, Roxbury is a part of the lake community,” he said. “With stable funding, we can plan to improve the Landing Channel in the future. We can now control the weeds, which betters the Landing beaches.”
The man-made channel is still shallow enough to allow sunlight to reach the bottom. That means plants can thrive there and, when they die, they steadily add layers of muck to the bottom. By clearing the channel with the help of newly-allocated funding, Crowley hopes to promote public recreational use in the area to “make Landing what it used to be” when the beaches were highly populated during the warmer months. He has, however, admitted this is not currently a priority.
In addition to increased recreational use, the bill will benefit the lake business community, said those at the event.
“[The bill] supports our resource, and better resource means better business,” said Bridge Marina Owner Ray Fernandez. “The lake community is symbiotic. When more people come to the lake, more people use the marinas, then go to the surrounding businesses. We’ll all benefit. The bill was a long time coming.”
The bill did not come about overnight; Bucco and his colleagues have been pushing towards the goal for about 15 years.
“Between county and state representatives, citizens, businesses, support at every level has been crucial to passing this legislature,” said Roxbury Township Councilman Bob DeFillippo. “This is so important to keeping the lake beautiful as it always has been.”
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