Built a decade ago to ensure Newark’s water supply, the Newark Reservoir has become a popular recreation destination as well – so popular that the path to the top now ranks among the state’s most-traversed trails.
All that foot traffic, though, has a downside, particularly when it comes to the people who leave the paved path that winds its way to the top and instead make the quicker – albeit significantly steeper – climb directly to the top.
The frequent foot traffic wears a path from the parking lot to the top, killing off the vegetation, which leads to erosion that could jeopardize the stability of the slope, Public Works Director Tim Filasky said.
Attempts to convince people to stay on the paved path or at least vary their path up the hill have been unsuccessful.
“Over the years, we have struggled with a solution for discouraging the formation of a path to the top of the reservoir on the grassy slope near the paved path, while still allowing the use of the slope,” Filasky said in a prepared statement. “We have tried signage, tape, personnel, etc., all to no avail.”
Last month, the city implemented its latest strategy, the installation of a split-rail fence along the base of the reservoir.
“We will remove sections for a given period of time and mow a path to the top to allow people to still use the slope,” Filasky explained. “We will periodically relocate the section that is open to allow the grass to grow.”
Officials hope that a physical barrier will be successful in preventing damage to the reservoir.
“The reservoir is an important water facility, and independent annual inspections have noted that the erosion caused by these paths needs to be addressed,” Filasky noted.