Township Seeks Funding For Shadow Lake Cleanup
By John Burton
MIDDLETOWN — Residents in the area of Shadow Lake have some reason to hope that township officials may soon move forward with a plan to restore the man-made lake, which has been overwhelmed with algae, felled trees and contaminated soil.
During a public hearing last Monday, Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante, members of the township’s engineering firm and a representative from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) pertaining to the lake and explained the proposal to correct the situation.
The township has applied to the DEP for approximately $3.7 million in funding to dredge the lake, remove contaminated silt and sediment and transport it to an appropriate site.
The plan, explained engineer Robert Keady Jr. and environmental scientist Kris Krzyston, both with T&M Associates, is to remove an estimated 150,000 cubic yards of sediment from the lake’s western one-third and take it to neighboring Stevenson Park, a township park. There the dredge material will be left for about a year to dry out, and then it will be hauled away to a final deposit site.
The most likely site for permanent disposal is in Sayreville at the Sayreville Seaport Associates LP location, Krzyston said.
Austin Canade, whose home is on the lake’s eastern end, said he swims there during the summer, and “I am happy to see the project moving forward.”
Clifford Raisch lives on Alexander Drive, on the lake’s northern end. He has lived there for 22 years. “The minute we saw the lake we wanted to buy the property,” he told the officials.
“I’m in favor of this project,” Raisch said. “And I hope it gets off the ground this time.”
“We’re trying,” Krzyston said. “We’ve been working on this a long time.”
This is not the first time those around the lake have heard about plans to clean it up.
Back in 2007, based upon engineering studies, the township committee planned to dredge the lake and applied for funding to underwrite the project. But the DEP opposed the township’s plan to bury the material in a contained area of Stevenson Park, insisting that the township haul it to an appropriate disposal site.
At that time, local officials said that the cost of dredging the material and trucking it away would cost more than $10 million.
Now, though, the entire project is expected to run about $3.7 million. The township hopes to fund the cost of the cleanup through the state’s Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program. With the DEP’s support for the project, the township would borrow 75 percent of the funds needed interest free and pay market rate interest for the remaining 25 percent cost of the project which would be paid back over a 20 year period, explained T&M’s Rosario Santos.
The township has DEP permits in hand for the work, which would begin in spring 2012 with the actual dredging taking place from July 2012-April 2013. The material would be placed on about 17.89 acres at the park to dry, from April 2014-April 2015, surrounded by a series of temporary berms, and then be transported.
“As with any project there will be environmental impacts,” warned Krzyston. Those impacts include the loss of 532 trees. “When you take material out of water and place it on land there will be odor,” Krzyston told the audience of about 30.
The expected smell would be, “like low tide in Port Monmouth,” Mercantante explained.
“With dredging there will be machinery,” and the accompanying noise, as well the eventual convey of trucks back and froth through the area to carry away the material, Krzyston said.
“This project is to benefit Shadow Lake,” he assured the audience. “At the end of the day the township will have a lake that will function as it is suppose to.”
Jim Gilbert has lived in the senior housing complex Shadow Lake Village for more than 20 years and has been actively working on getting local officials to address this situation. Afterward Monday’s meeting he said, “We’ve been through this before” adding, “Let’s hope it happens this time.”
“This process is a good first step,” said John Petracca, also of Shadow Lake Village, who offered some doubt that it would actually move forward this time. “I’d like to see something more final,” than was offered that night. “But I want to keep it positive,” he said in conclusion.
The manmade three-mile long, 80-acre lake is located in the township’s River Plaza section, north of West Front Street and just west of the Navesink and Swimming rivers.
The lake has been a haven for recreation including boating and fishing but over the years has deteriorated to the point that residents feared it would die or become a swamp.
Tests on sediment from the lake have also found unacceptable levels of arsenic, a naturally occurring heavy metal contaminate in it.