Van Buskirk Island Park The Water Works
Van Buskirk Island Park The Water Works
Oradell, New Jersey

County of Bergen
Department of Parks
Division of Parks and Recreation
One Bergen County Plaza, 4th Floor
Hackensack, NJ 07601

Steve Bernstein, PE
Daylor Consulting Group

Project Info


Project Cost

DiGeronimo PC is planner and architect evaluating the historic registered water works structures for reuse, to be integrated into a park scheme. The proposed park provides three alternates for the variety of uses the historic structures could incorporate. DiGeronimo PC is working under prime, Daylor Consulting Group, a planning, landscape architecture, and civil engineering firm. The Water Works in Oradell is the longest operating drinking water supply and purification process plant in New Jersey. The site has been in continuous use since ancient, native population times.

The DiGeronimo historic architectural design concepts for the site consist of three schemes. 1) Retaining a portion of the building architecture while creating a park setting. 2) Retaining all of the architecture buildings “mothballing” the buildings to hold them in a preservative state to be adaptively used by others in the future. 3) Retaining the architecture of 1882-1914 buildings for adaptive use by installing flood control devices. The bases for each of these schemes consider that the entire site is a flood zone and subjected to annual flooding. It is this condition of annual flooding that creates an adverse effect on the site as well as the building.

During the construction of this facility (Historic Period) 1882-1914 the flooding characteristics of the site were quite different, as the extent of land development in Bergen County was not what is today, where-by the functional use of these buildings was not interrupted by flood water. Documentation establishes the introduction of a flood gate as recent as 1980, suggesting the flooding started to occur in the 1970’s. Without site flood control, without the construction of earthen dikes, or without concrete masonry & flood walls, the future of these buildings is in jeopardy.

The Preferred Scheme maintains the 1911 building which houses old pump #7, as well as the front section of the 1905-1906 filter building. Adjacent to the 1911 building, the 1882, mid 1880, 1898 and 1906 buildings form an open garden area. The 1882 and 1911 stacks remain. The 1911 building housing pump #7 remains as an open structure, protecting the historic pump #7. The buildings allow flood waters to enter and leave without containment. The balance of the site is a park setting open to natural plantings and vegetation.

Alternative A, retains the entire building complex, enclosed within a 10’-0” chain-ling fence, the buildings will be “mothballed” to retain their current conditions, which will include, roof repair, removal of unsafe conditions, repair of flood gates, large onsite pump, etc. The resulting work would allow these buildings to stay in their present conditions with periodic maintenance and repair for approximately 5 to 10 years.

Alternate B, retains the entire building complex. Constructed at the perimeter of the complex, on the west, a 10’-0” high flood wall with flood gates, on the east side, the current earth berm will be extended to meet with the building, creating a basin protecting the remaining buildings from flooding. Once flood-proofed, the complex can be fully restored and converted to an adaptive use. One reuse scenario is to use the pump house as educational, retail; while the filtration building can be office, commercial.