Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weasel Watch

The town in which I live used to be home to many large industrial plants. In fact, when I was growing up if your Dad did not work at one of the big three (Dupont, Hercules or National Lead) you were looked at with some suspicion. Everyone in town had someone that worked in one of the three. When these companies downsized or left the area we were left with some unappealing tracts of land. For over two decades local officials from both sides of the aisle have been trying to redevelop the affected areas in to clean ratables for our town. Located on prime real estate, once developed these areas would be a financial shot in the arm to our now bedroom community.

Finally a deal has been inked and very successful development company has started transforming the area in to what we in the area hope will be a boom town of sorts. Enter now the enviro weasels.

SAYREVILLE — Two environmental groups, standing on the former National Lead Industries
property, announced a lawsuit against 11 parties for failure to properly clean the former 440-acre industrial site on the banks of the Raritan River."This site has been causing harm to the Raritan River and its inhabitants for decades," said Bill Schultz of Raritan Riverkeeper at a press conference held on the site earmarked for major development.

"It is about time for the bleeding of toxins from this site to the river to stop. All these
materials need to be removed and properly dealt with,'' said Schultz.

Robert Spiegel, executive director of the Edison Wetlands Association, described the Raritan River as "a river in recovery.'' He added, "But it will not recover until the
National Lead property is cleaned up.''

Mayor Kennedy O'Brien reacted angrily to the news that the environmental groups filed suit over property slated for major redevelopment, saying the environmentalists were out-of-towners who were trespassing yesterday on private property.

The press conference, said O'Brien, "Was a publicity stunt so they can get funding for their phony baloney jobs. They're denying the people of Sayreville tax remediation.''

For the record I am not an environmental expert by any stretch. I suspect the same is true for Mr. Spiegel though we have never met. The fact remains however that part of the development of these brown fields in to usable space involves remediation of the property. That's not the problem. The problem is that the remediation is not up to Mr. Spiegel's standards. I get the impression that until even the arrow heads left by the Leni Lenape Indians along the shores of the Raritan are cleaned up Mr. Spiegel will continue to be a pain in the behind and cause a lengthy and inordinate delay for much needed tax relief in our town.

I can't understand the logic behind his tactics. No clean up is better than one that does not live up to his expectations? Is not half a pie better than and empty plate? Shouldn't he shut his pie hole and leave the governance of our town to its residents and elected officials? Probably.

The rest of this story is here.

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