Save Lake Reality

Local lake in negotiations with town council over dam repairs.

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Photo courtesy of lakereality.org

A sunset view of Lake Reality

It has been hard not to notice the striking red signs bearing the words “Save Lake Reality” that have appeared around Kinnelon in the recent weeks. Sitting beside the Kinnelon landmark, A Taste of Reality Deli, many would question how such a popular lake could be in need of saving. 

In 2003, the state of New Jersey passed legislation granting low-interest loans to private lake communities to make repairs on their dams. Lake Reality was one of those communities with a dam in need of repairs. The lake co-applied for the loan with the town of Kinnelon and was approved. But before the loan can be taken to upgrade the dam, the Lake Reality community must prove to the town that its residents can pay the $750,000 low-interest loan over the next 20 years, so that the financial responsibility of the loan will not fall on the town. Lake Reality feels that the town would never be responsible for the loan, as the neighborhood would be legally required to pay.

Tom Perch, a Lake Reality resident for over 20 years, is one of many helping work with the town to save his lake. “I think the lake is beautiful. I live facing the lake so we have a lovely view all day long.” Perch explained the benefits of the lake in an interview, saying, “Just the enjoyment of having the lake around, the beauty of it, the ability to access it, the ability to do all lake activities, swimming, boating, fishing, ice skating are all lost [if the lake is drained] and that would be a huge disappointment to people around the neighborhood. The loss of property value for people who live on the lake like us would not be good.”

Lake Reality representatives have been meeting with the town to discuss the legal specifications of the loan and the financial responsibilities. When asked about a deadline for negotiations, Perch noted, “The deadline isn’t too worrisome but we can’t continue to go on forever like this. We’ve got to get going, no question.” Perch is hopeful of the outcome of these meetings, saying, “We’ve gotten to a point [in the discussions] where everyone understands we’re in this together, and hopefully that’ll result in us working this out.” 

Perch emphasizes the developments the lake and town have made, saying, “We’ve made a lot of progress. I think it will end up working out. That’s the most important thing.” In a council meeting on Nov. 18, Mayor James Freda spoke to Lake Reality representative Cliff Giantonio, saying, “We are 100% behind you guys, we want this to work. I like where it’s going, meeting, hashing everything out and letting people know that we are working towards a solution.”