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1921: Jersey City Under Commission Government
A Book of Achievement

The Morris Canal

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MONG the projects which affect the future development of Jersey City is the abandonment of the Morris Canal. This canal has been practically abandoned for more than thirty years, although the lessee, the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, maintains it for the purpose of keeping alive the charter.

Not only does the Morris Canal serve no use as a canal, but is in its semi-abandoned condition a receptacle for all kinds of retuse and is a nuisance and an eyesore. The accompanying illustration shows one of the stretches of the canal in its present condition. The illustration in the article upon the Droyer's Point improvement also shows another stretch of the canal as it now exists. How to get rid of the canal is a very difficult problem. The railroad company is a powerful corporation both in the Legislature and in the courts. It has proved in the past impossible to get them to agree to any abandonment of the canal upon terms which seem fair to the public.

Solving the Problem.

The City Commissioners have made this winter an attempt to solve this problem. Special counsel has been secured and the co-operation of Newark and the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission has been obtained, and a bill has been prepared and introduced into the Legislature providing for the acquisition by the State through condemnation proceedings of the canal. The general plan of this legislation is that the State should thus acquire the canal, and then should by appropriate legislation authorize the canal to be devoted to other uses. The canal will be very valuable when converted to such uses.

The basin at the end of the canal in Jersey City can then be devoted to profitable waterfront purposes, and perhaps acquired by the city. The bed of the canal in Jersey City can be profitably used as a railroad or a highway for the accommodation of the factories that are sure to come here as soon as the vehicular tunnel to New York is opened. The bed of the canal in Newark and perhaps up to Paterson will afford opportunity for a high speed trolley semi-subway, which will be a great advantage to that section. The canal above Paterson can be used as a right-of-way for a new water supply, which Passaic and Paterson must ultimately secure. Another portion of the canal might be profitably used as a conduit for diverting sewage from Dover, Rockaway and possibly the Jersey City reservoir at Boonton.

Released Water Rights.

The abandonment of the Canal would also release certain surplus water rights now vested in the canal company, which would add some millions of gallons daily to the water supply of Jersey City.

This bill has been introduced with the aid of the Commissioners of Jersey City upon the idea that its passage will solve the problem, or that the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company will come forward with proposals of a settlement of the controversy which will be satisfactory to the people, and that in case the bill is defeated and no settlement is accomplished the bill will serve the purpose of a beginning for the solution of this problem upon just principles. To this gigantic task and to the final settlement of this question in a way that shall secure the abandonment of the canal and the devotion of the same to other seriously needed and profitable public uses the present Commission is committed and can be trusted to follow it tip with intelligence and energy.

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