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November 22, 2004 (rt23 news) - (Riverdale, NJ) Dozens of volunteers turned out on November 21st for a clean-up effort at the Van Ness House in Riverdale. The event was hosted by the Pequannock River Coalition as they handle maintenance of the historic home while preservation funding is sought. Built in the 1720’s, the estate is widely recognized as a significant treasure and a link to the area’s Colonial past. Although a strip mall had been planned for the property, the developer has been waiting as Riverdale officials seek funding to acquire the tract.

"We are so encouraged by all the people who pitched in on Sunday" said Coalition Director Ross Kushner. "The amount of work they did was incredible. And it wasn’t just Riverdale residents. Folks came in from Butler, Kinnelon, Bloomingdale- even one fellow from Annapolis, Maryland. Home Depot chipped in with supplies for the event. Letters and emails have been pouring in too. We have always insisted that the Van Ness House has regional importance and this public support confirms that."

Earlier this year the State provided $575,000 toward the purchase price with additional funding sought from Morris County. However, this plan suffered a severe setback when the County of Morris denied the request for money from the County’s Open Space Fund. "I have a hard time explaining to people why the County hasn’t kicked in a single dollar," said Kushner. "So far all we’ve gotten from them is a suggestion that we apply again next year. But citizens are saying ’Don’t they get it? The Van Ness House won’t be here in another year.’ They find the County’s attitude inexcusable."

The Coalition will continue working with the Borough of Riverdale, the Passaic River Coalition and the Van Ness House Preservation Committee to find the funding needed. "All we can do is our best," said Kushner. "If the house is lost it won’t be because we didn’t do our part or because local citizens didn’t care. And it won’t be the fault of the Borough or the State. We remain hopeful that Morris County officials will come to their senses and seize this opportunity before it is too late. For now, we urge concerned citizens to contact the Morris County Freeholders and express their indignation. You can reach them by phone at 973-285-6010 or via email at"

The next Van Ness maintenance event will be scheduled for March of 2005. "That is," said Kushner, "if the house is still there."

Additional information on the Pequannock River Coalition and their many programs is available on their website at, by writing them at Pequannock River Coalition, P.O. Box 392, Newfoundland, NJ 07435, by phone at (973) 492-3212 or email at

Posted by: Staff at
November 22, 2004


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