Lake Hopatcong ready for comeback after double whammy: harmful algae bloom and a pandemic
Setbacks have plagued lakeside towns in New Jersey over the last two years -- a harmful algae bloom in 2019 and the pandemic in 2020. Ahead of a forecasted potential heat wave in the next several days, businesses in Morris County are ready for a comeback.
The mood is optimistic on Lake Hopatcong.
"You could feel the excitement. You could feel people like, 'Wow, this is gonna be good this year, this is gonna be great,'" said Dave Schneider, of Lake Hopatcong.
New Jersey's lakes are considered a newfound destination. Marty Kane, with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, says boat rentals are already booked through most of the summer.
"It's not just going to the Jersey Shore -- just a lot less traffic here, yet it still has so many reasons that people go to the shore, and we like to think that it's even better because they're swimming in fresh water," Kane said.
Patty Cinelli, manager at the Lake Hopatcong Adventure Company, saw business rise and fall since its opening in 2018. However, she's optimistic about this summer, especially with reservations already made ahead of the upcoming heatwave.
"First year was the first year and there was a lot of rain that first year, actually. Second year was the algae bloom, then a worldwide pandemic that actually helped us, so this year, I hope that everybody knows about us," Cinelli said.
But the potential heat wave comes with anxiety.
"Anytime that the temperatures are going up now, we hold our breath," said Kane.
In 2019, Lake Hopatcong was hit with a harmful algal bloom that shut down lakeside activities. The algae feed from sunshine.
"It's being attacked at a lot of different levels. Just to try to take some of the nutrients out of the water and make it a less attractive place for a harmful algal bloom to want to develop," Kane said.
As with most restaurants right now, staffing is an issue at lakeside eateries.
"I've been at restaurants where there's open tables, but they say there's a wait because they don't have to wait staff to support it and unfortunately that's just how it is," Schnieder said.