Wasteland Turned Wonderland for Rowing in NJ

After decades of use as a landfill, Overpeck Creek's recent makeover has created a dream home for rowing crews from around the New York region, reports Juliet Macur.
May 9, 2012, 8am PDT | Alesia Hsiao
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With $100 million invested over a period of seven years, a cleanup project has transformed the Overpeck Creek, previously a toxic garbage dump, into a much more viable open space. The revival of this large stretch of water has made it an ideal location for reviving New York's historic infatuation with the sport of rowing.

Clemens Reinke, the rowing coach at Teaneck High, Leonia High and Fairleigh Dickinson College, knew that Overpeck Creek was a rower's dream from the moment he saw it two years ago: "It stretches about 4,000 meters - roughly two and a half miles, twice the length of an Olympic course - and has no current because the creek was dammed from the Hackensack River years ago."

Although, remnants of the landfill come up from time to time, it is far better than the Passaic River, the alternate venue for rowing. "Overpeck Creek, a tributary of the Hackensack River, does not rival mountain spring water in its purity, but it is much cleaner than the Passaic," said Bill Sheehan, the founder of Hackensack Riverkeeper, an advocate for the river. "Sheehan added that sewage overflow into the Passaic was common. 'If you swallow the water, you're definitely going to come down with something, maybe dysentery,' he said. That is not the case with the Overpeck."

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Published on Monday, May 7, 2012 in The New York Times
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