A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

$350,000 Surprise in the Ground

The minutes of the Aberdeen Township Council workshop and regular sessions on 2 February 2010, which were just posted online on Friday, reveal that the Council requested an "Emergency Temporary Allocation" of $350,000 to pay for engineering services and hazardous materials removal related to an oily substance found in an oil tank discovered on the South River Metals property.

I've not seen any mention of this action in the local press or at the DEP website, nor have the companies that won the bids for engineering services and hazardous waste removal been announced by the Township. While the workshop minutes mention that some sort of grants are supposed to replenish the monies to the Township, the resolutions don't specify how or when these monies will be restored. And Resolution 2010-47 is poorly constructed. It ought to say that the contents of an oil tank must be removed as hazardous waste and disposed of at a cost not to exceed $190,000.

This is what the workshop minutes say:

Engineering Proposals for South River Metals Remediation: South River Metals Site was found to have an oil tank on property and the Department of Environmental Protection is requiring us to have it remediated by April 30, 2010. There is an oily substance in there and needs to be removed. Required resolutions will be: Resolution No. 2010-45, Emergency Temporary Appropriation for $350,000 for Hazardous Waste Removal; Resolution No. 2010-46, Professional Engineering Services not to exceed the sum of $160,000 with three proposals dated January 29, 2010; and Awarding Emergency Contract for Removal of Material from Tank at South River Metals Site not to exceed the sum of $190,000. We will be getting money back from grants. A straw poll vote was unanimously in favor of bringing these three resolutions to tonight’s public meeting.

And here are the resolutions that actually passed during the regular session:

7. RESOLUTION NO. 2010-45 - BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council that it hereby authorizes Emergency Temporary Appropriation in the amount of $350,000.
8. RESOLUTION NO. 2010-46 - BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council that it hereby authorizes three proposals for engineering services associated with the Former South River Metal Products Site not to exceed $160,000.
9. RESOLUTION NO. 2010-47 - BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council that it hereby authorizes emergency agreement for remediation of a tank on the South River Metals Site.

You may recall that Township Engineer David Samuel, Managing Partner of CME Associates, contracted with PRC Group last October to build senior housing and a rec center on the old South River Metals grounds. There was a late January 2010 article in The Independent to that effect. That paper's original October 2009 article about the plan for a new senior community mentions that the grants will come from the New Jersey Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund, which I have learned is a program meant to help find new uses for so-called brownfields. (I learned quite a bit about the restoration of these former plant sites for other uses while studying in Erie, Pennsylvania a couple of years ago. They have a sophisticated and rather successful system in place there.)

Aberdeen Township's press release of 21 October 2009 makes it pretty clear that these expenses could have been anticipated, so I'm not sure why 3 resolutions needed to be added to the Council agenda on the night of the 2 February meeting.

“These are not insurmountable issues,” Samuel continued. “Fortunately, most of the funds for this additional work are available from HDSRF (New Jersey Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund) grants. With the major component of our cleanup approved and these two other issues clearly identified, this provides us the direction to move the project forward. With this information in hand, the developer is now in the position to fast-track the planning process for the site and present its plans to the Aberdeen Planning Board before the end of this year.”

BTW, a Google search suggests that Emergency Temporary Allocation is a New Jersey terminology, as it mainly seems to appear in NJ municipal budget discussions. It looks to be just another way of saying extrabudgetary


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