By John Burton
RED BANK – The site of the former borough landfill and incinerator contains some contamination and remains as much as a decade away before it could become a long envisioned west side public park.
Borough officials conducted a special public meeting Wednesday evening and presented the results of a preliminary investigation of the 8.55-acre Sunset Avenue borough-owned location overlooking the Swimming River.
According to Daniel Cooke, an ecologist for the AMEC environmental consulting firm that participated in compiling the report, “This is not what I would consider a contaminated site.”
“Right now we are in the investigation stage,” said borough engineer Christine Ballard. Red Bank is still a long way from completing that investigation.
“We need more analysis,” Cooke said.
The site contains some contaminates, such as lead and other metals, methane and pesticides, that are associated with its longtime use. Showing similar results is sentiment taken from the river, which has trace levels of PCBs, according to Cooke and others at the presentation.
“The question is how much of it,” Cooke said, noting these studies indicate the levels are not exceedingly high. “We found there was a risk to fish and invertebrates” in the water immediately offshore. The area, though, doesn’t contain the type of environment where the fish would stay, but would simply move along, he added.
Asked when the site may be remediated for a park, Ballard estimated it would be at least five years, and more likely closer to 10 before it would be usable.
The incinerator was constructed in 1930 with the borough beginning the closing process during the 1970s and shutting it and the landfill down in 1984, according to Ballard.
The incinerator and its smoke stack were demolished in 2009 with money the borough obtained from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Officials have long discussed a west side waterfront park on the site, which is, according to Ballard, the largest undeveloped property in the borough.
The borough’s west side does not have an active recreational area.