BLOOMFIELD, NJ — A discarded culvert is in the way of fully completing the extension of the Morris Canal pocket park, located on Oak Tree Lane. A culvert is a concrete water pipe placed under roadbeds. The origin of this partially-buried culvert is unknown, although the Garden State Parkway is a stone’s throw away.
The effort to reclaim the bed of the Morris Canal along Oak Tree Lane as the trail to the pocket park is being undertaken by the Bloomfield Morris Canal Greenway Committee, the Department of Recreation and the Department of Public Works and Parks, which was recently at work at the site. Local Boy Scouts have done much of the manual work of the reclamation as projects for their Eagle Scout badges.
Councilman Carlos Pomares, an advocate for the Greenway Committee, acknowledged that removing the culvert will not be easy.
“It’s not going to happen in one shot,” he said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “We’re staging our approach.”
Pomares said the DPW used a small excavator to clear and extend the canal bed and expose the pipe.
“Now we have an idea of how big and heavy that thing is,” he said.
The culvert is approximately 6 feet long, 4 feet in diameter and made of concrete approximately 5 inches thick.
“Right now, the culvert is not impeding one from going by it,” Pomares said. “The ultimate goal is to remove it. We can get into there with bigger equipment or break it down into chunks. My guess is to break it down into chunks. It’s a work in progress.”
Site clearing of the canal bed was done by Public Works. DPW Director Anthony Nesto said a mini-excavator on loan from a supplier, was used for the job.
“Our loaders couldn’t get into there,” Nesto said last week, referring to heavier equipment. “We deal with a company which gave us the excavator as a loaner. It cost us nothing.”
He said the extended trail was cleared by Anthony Christiano, Mike Greco and Mike Connelly.
But there was no attempt to use the excavator to crack the culvert; Nesto said he did not want to take the chance of damaging the loaned equipment.
“It’s big, heavy and embedded in the dirt,” he said of the pipe. “We may have to physically jackhammer it. I don’t know how it got there.”
Pomares said he would like to call in the Scouts again to help finish the trail, but that may have to wait until the problem of the immovable object is solved.
“The culvert has been there for some time,” he said. “Trees grew around it. My thought is that it came from the Parkway. There’s a drainage ditch nearby. I think it’s related to that. No one in town can figure where it came from. But it’s a good problem to have. We have more sections of the canal bed available to us. The bigger picture is we extended the canal bed.”