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Letter: Swimming in Pine Lake a 'Remote' Possibility

A letter to the editor submitted by Manchester Mayor Michael Fressola

Dear Editor:

At a recent council meeting a resident brought up a question regarding Pine Lake. He asked if Pine Lake was polluted and if not, why swimming isn’t allowed. I will attempt to answer his questions.

In November of 1935, a project was started on the Ridgeway branch of the Toms River to prevent the flooding of the town we now call Toms River, and parts of Berkeley Township. President Roosevelt approved an application to construct a dam and create a detention/retention facility, now called Pine Lake. The work was to be done by the W.P.A., the “Works Project Administration,” a work stimulus program developed to provide some relief from the job losses during the “Great Depression."

The water detained/retained in Pine Lake originates in more than a half dozen tributaries located throughout Jackson Township and parts of north Manchester. These tributaries collect run-off from thousands of acres of both farmland and residential complexes. While the water in Pine Lake may not be polluted at any given moment, the condition is determined by the amount of rainfall.

This large detention/retention facility was never proposed to be a swimming lake and because the magnitude and the number of streams, brooks, and yes rivers that feed into Pine Lake, the prospect that it will ever be safe for swimming for any extended period of time is remote, if not impossible, in our lifetime.


Michael Fressola

George Johnson September 09, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Makes sense. Did not realize there was so much history to the pine lake. The mayor did a good job on this response. I still would love to use the paddle boats again though.
Bryan September 09, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Bull crap people swam there for 30 years or more, its flowing water! Many generations have for years! Soo you expect us to buy this crap! The landfill seagulls and geese crapping has nothing to do with it? This town get about $5.00 a ton from the landfill for being its host community plus properity taxes, so dont piss them off or step on any toes there Mr Mayor! Mananhawkin lake had the same problem and is now open! If you had any interest in the battle over the landfills expansion into our backyards you would know that the seagulls were and still are being chased outof the landfill cause the arent allowed to roost there by DEP law so the fly over to the lake and crap in it then back to the landfill for more! This is adding to the lakes pollution, but you reep all the benifits and shake the landfills hand and pretend its not here. We contacted you many years ago about this and got " we have nothing to do with the landfill" wasnt untill we got the attention of then Gov Whittman did we get some kind of action, no thanks to you. We deal with the smells and calls to the health dept and you did nothing but call them a good nieghbor!
WhitingBoy September 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Nice response with some history built in....very interesting.
Scott Neuman September 10, 2012 at 12:39 PM
As stated, it's not the down flow but the dump that is the issue. How many of us canoe and swim in other rivers and streams. If this is really a pollution problem from upstream neighbors in Jackson, and that flow runs down to the Toms River and the Bay it needs to be dealt with, not just toss our hands up and go too bad suck it up.
Scott Neuman September 10, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Isn't Pine Lake tested as are other wsterways?
bhavaja September 10, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Back in late 70's and early 80's you could swim there unless it was drought issue- the boats were welcome too- this made for better RE
bhavaja September 10, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Pressed send too soon..better real estate value- better taxes
WhitingBoy September 10, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Well, the Mayor says this was never intended to be a swimming area, yet some folks on here say it has been a swimming area. Was this actually a lifeguarded, township-run beach and then that changed? If it was never intended to be a swimmable area, and some folks just jumped in and swam; that doesn’t change what the Mayor said. If it was swimmable between 1935 and now (officially, not de facto) and now has changed, then that might challenge the veracity of the letter. Curious to hear more.
bhavaja September 10, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Your right- there were life guard stands!
prolongExistence September 10, 2012 at 05:53 PM
It was a twp run, public swimming beach when I moved here in 1978.
Michelle Leigh September 10, 2012 at 06:32 PM
ABSOLUTELY was this designated as a swimming area! I've lived here since the 1970s, attended Manchester Recreation Day Camp in the late 70s through 80s and Pine Lake was used for open swimming and lessons until the lake's closure. I fondly recall many summers jumping off the dock in the middle of Pine Lake. Yes, there were lifeguards and even a pizza/ice cream establishment. We have lots of family photos to prove all of this, although you could ask any resident from that time period. The lake was closed in the early 80s due to pollution. Residents have repeatedly been told over the years that the pollution is due to the local bird population ingesting garbage from the dump and then doing their "business" in the lake.
Michelle Leigh September 10, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Looks like the Mayor has the incorrect account of the history of Pine Lake. Here is the OFFICIAL information: Pine Lake Park Manchester Township, Ocean County, NJ over 16,000 acres Bounded on the south by Route 37, on north by Route 571, and on east by the Dover Township line. History: 1842 -- James J. Reynolds build the Union Saw Mill, damming the Union Branch and the Ridgway Branch for power. 1891 -- the Pine Lake Park Land & Improvement Company buys six tracts of land, including the mill site. The development lots purchased by the Commonwealth Realty Improvement Corporation and William S. Jackson's Fidelity Realty Corporation. 1915 -- the lake enlarged for the purposes of summer bathing. 1936 -- lake acquired by the Township of Manchester. (Source: Miller 2000:333-334)
Browser Boy September 11, 2012 at 06:52 PM
I moved to TR in 1966, swam in Pine Lake as a child, with life guards and a floating dock. If you go to www.historicaerials.com you can view the differences in the shore line over the decades. some major differences between 1931 and 1940 and again in 1953.. Another big change between 63 and 72... it's highly interesting, find the lake on the map, click on compare and use the slider. Anyway, the issue has been high levels of fecal coliform. what is uphill from the lake? anyone? Hundreds of septic systems. My untested theory is that sewers in PLP would help with the problem immensely. No matter how many birds you have, can they really crap enough to raise the levels of fecal coliform? they crap on the land, do they crap in the water? how much? I really doubt it's ever been studied properly. PLP the township is happy to take our tax money, but put it back into OUR community... heck how long did it take them to pave the freakin streets?
Matt September 03, 2013 at 10:53 AM
I grew up here and that lake was open even during some of the 90's My friends and i used to swim/hangout there. There were lifeguards there too. One summer it would be closed, the next it would be open, Then closed again. All due to pollution. How about the many times it was drained also, We used to walk to the island when it was drained. I thnk the mayor needs to get his facts a little more straight. It's a shame that it is not open. I among many others loved to go there. From my teen years and still even now.


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