Abandoned NJ Pump House Raises New Concerns After Boy’s Near-Drowning

Neighbors are newly concerned about local teenagers breaking into an abandoned pump house in Jersey City after a boy plunged into a well inside the building Tuesday night and had to be rescued by firefighters. 

"They come over 24-seven over there," said John Preston, who fishes often at the lake near Summit and Jefferson avenues. "They go into the pump house. They've already been in that tower over there."

The lake, called Reservoir Number 2, is open to the public during limited hours, but some outside walls are easy for kids to scale. The reservoir and its pump house have not been used since 1982.

"There's a lot of safety elements we can't really monitor," said Preston. 

Gavin says the pump house is full of dangerous shafts some 35 feet deep, filled with about 10 feet of water. The 16-year-old boy who plunged into the well Tuesday had apparently fallen through rotted plywood covering up the hole and was found clutching some wood. 

"He was pretty scared. Frightened and shaken," said Jersey City firefighter Gary Gavin.

"He was holding on to that. He said he wasn't touching the bottom so we figured it was deep water," said Gavin. 

Firefighters staged a rope rescue and managed to pull the boy to safety. He was seen walking out of the pump house wrapped in a blanket, his head covered in protective gear. 

Jersey City firefighters train for water rescue at the lake, and were fully prepared Tuesday night. But the pump house is sealed tightly, raising questions about how the teens were able to get in.

"The door was secure when we arrived last night," said Jersey City Battalion Chief Robert Daly. "The kids possibly came in through another window, they had to climb much."

The 16-year-old boy couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday, but neighbor Gaspar Villanueva called him a "good kid."

"I guess he's just curious," he said.  

A message has been left with the Jersey City mayor's office. 

Despite not being used for decades, the Romanesque pump house is considered historically significant in the region, according to advocacy organization Jersey City Reservoir. The group states on its website that the reservoir is only partially protected, and it aims to protect the 13 acres on the site before they're sold for development. 

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