An issue that arose in November of 2017 has resulted in the municipality – through taxpayer funds – having to finance an estimated $900,000 project to remediate underground storage tanks at the current Department of Public Works (DPW) site across the street from Roselle Park High School at 180 West Webster Avenue.
Late last year, representatives for the municipality went to Trenton to meet with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). This was part of a supplemental application for additional grant funding the municipality applied for related to senior housing remediation efforts. As part of addressing affordable housing in Roselle Park, the municipality in 2010 proposed that senior housing be placed where the current DPW yard is located and the DPW would move basically around the corner to the intersection of Laurel and Seaton Avenues.
As part of placing a senior housing development at the current DPW site, an investigation and environmental assessment for cleanup needed to be conducted. A grant was received a couple of years ago to provide funds for the investigation and assessment. The Domus Corporation is the non-profit organization that the municipality entered into an agreement with to provide senior housing. Domus applied with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development – also known as HUD – to assist with costs but HUD will not fund a project that has significant environmental contamination; hence the need for an assessment.
It was during one of the numerous meetings with NJDEP that a statement from a representative of Langan Engineering & Environmental Services – the municipality’s Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) – revealed that no after-action reporting and compliance documents were filed almost a quarter century ago in 1994 after two (2) underground storage tanks (UST) were removed from the DPW yard. Even though the USTs were removed, compliance work that should have followed between the municipality and NJDEP apparently never occurred.
This led to NJDEP requiring a new remedial action with incremental 30-day timeframes that would result in the state taking over remediation if they were not met. Currently, the municipality has adhered to all timelines which includes this ordinance and accompanying resolution.
Any remediation would be any contamination left from the two fuel tanks – one being a 1,000-gallon tank and the other a 2,000-gallon tank – that were removed. The extent of contamination is not fully known so the $900,000 cost of the remedial action is an educated estimate from the LSRP.
In perhaps a telling exchange, in September of 2017, resident Jacob Magiera asked during a public comment portion of a municipal meeting for an update on senior housing. One of his questions was what would happen if NJDEP does not end up helping with additional funding, Mayor Carl Hokanson replied, “[Then] there’s a problem.”
Now, almost eight months later, that problem has manifested in Ordinance 2528. This amount is in addition to the municipality’s already existing capital budget.
The public hearing and vote on this ordinance are set for Thursday night’s municipal meeting at 110 East Westfield Avenue with a start time of 7 pm.
A copy of Ordinance 2528 is available below:
Download RP Ordinance 2528