By: Chris Weninger
Billy Joel sang “Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes” in his 1976 hit, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood.” For Pompton Lakes resident and recent retiree as chairman of the Pompton Lakes Restoration Committee, Steve Grayberg, it is also time to say goodbye, but also good luck and thank you.
The Lake Restoration Committee was created under the town’s Flood Board Committee 12 years ago in response to growing concerns the lake was not being managed properly. “The lake wasn’t being cared for; it didn’t look that good, and it wasn’t that fun to use,” Grayberg stated.
Care for this body of water is a daunting task considering more than 200 acres of the lake stretches through the towns of Oakland, Wayne, and Pompton Lakes. Currently, Pompton Lakes is the only town of the three, that has any formal governing body dedicated to the waterway’s well-being. Grayberg, along with fellow Pompton Lakes residents, Maria Kent, Gardner Semet, and Jeffrey Lipman created the Pompton Lakes Restoration Committee.
The restoration committee started informally at first. Grayberg remembers, “We had to formalize it a little bit in order to get any money and so we did and little by little we became more formal.”
The formalization process became necessary in order to meet the requirements that would allow the town to appropriate resources needed to care for the lake. Once the group was a subcommittee, a chairperson was necessary. Grayberg, who was involved in project management in the informational technology field for 45 years, became the Chairman. “I was sort of acting in that role anyway and so it was a natural fit.”
When asked about his 12 years as the chairman, Grayberg was very proud of some of the accomplishments he and the committee were responsible for. “I’m proud of it being a formal body recognized and treated that way that was an accomplishment that came from nothing. I’m proud of the way the lake has looked for the last few years; it really looks good and I’m proud of the people who have come on board and they will continue that.”
The restoration committee also holds yearly contests open to the public such as photo, art, and writing contests that focus on capturing vivid scenes and memories of the lake. The committee is also responsible for an annual clean-up effort where committee members and volunteers go by boat and by boot to cleanup garbage and debris from littering.
One of the bigger projects Grayberg was a part of, was the massive and multi-year cleanup of approximately 40 acres of the lake, which was titled the Acid Brook Delta Remediation. The clean-up project was overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency in response to the Dupont Corporation. For years, contaminants, mainly mercury, leaked into Pompton Lake from a small brook, ironically named, Acid Brook. This resulted in a large-scale remediation project that finished this past fall.
Although Steve Grayberg is retiring from the committee, he is leaving it in the capable hands of Bernadette Arencibia and Maria Kent as co-chairs. “Bernadette (Arencibia) is going to take over the more operational side and Maria (Kent) will work closely with her and report activities to the Flood Board Committee,” Grayberg stated.
When he was then asked what he hoped the committee would do going forward he replied, “It’s an important asset that needs to be treated carefully, and we have been doing that and if you create something dies with you that’s not as good as something that lives on.”