Dredging, Improvements Coming to Edgemont Park

The Montclair Council approved an approximate $800K expenditure before the end of 2012.


The township is set to invest about $800,000 to improve and restore Edgemont Park.

Before the end of 2012, the council approved funds to dredge the pond and update other areas of the park -- such as the playgrounds and storm drainage.

The dredging, said Business Manager Marc Dashield, “will make the pond deeper and clear out all the sediment that came in.” He added it will help eliminate the cloudiness and algae growth in the pond.

The overall cost of the project will be about $798,000. GMP Contracting, of South Plainfield, will do the work and dredge about 6,600 linear feet of soil from the pond.

However, the cost could increase to $808,000 depending on the toxicity levels of the material dredged from the pond. The condition of the soil also led to three rejected bids for the project due to higher than expected proposals for the work.

Concerns over the soil made the township pay for preliminary testing, which found the soil to be safe and helped reduce cost of the overall project, said Dashield.

“The response we got back ... from the vendors was, they had no idea what the material was [in the pond],” said Dashield, “so they were going to the highest recovery costs possible.

“Based on the testing, people would have a better idea what to do with the soil.” 

In addition, the contractor will give the soil a second and more comprehensive test. 

The contamination was “naturally occurring,” said Dashield, and the park has always been clean. He added that the township is expecting the second soil test to prove the soil is much cleaner than originally expected. 

If contamination levels are found again to be low, Montclair State University is expected to take some removed soil for an upcoming project. Disposing the some of the soil nearby, said Dashield, will also help reduce the price tag of the project. 

The project will begin as soon as possible and be finished in time for the summer, said Dashield. Portions of the park will be closed off during construction. 

While the dredging was needed, Dashield noted it was not a one-time fix. Because the pond is man-made and the sediment build-up is naturally happens, he expected the pond will need another dredging in 10 to 15 years. 

chris January 04, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Ok my question is is this GMP Contracting, of South Plainfield the same company that did the work the first time around? Because if it is, this council is no better than Fried & Frenemies. I don't remember the name of that company, but the work was supposed to last much longer than it did due to their shoddy work -- PLUS the company was indicted for bid rigging YET Fried & cohorts still had them docked to do the work a second time around! This must be a new company, no?
Cary Africk January 04, 2013 at 11:38 PM
OK folks, we're getting way off track from the facts. First, read this which outlines things: http://montclair.patch.com/articles/cary-africk-stop-the-edgemont-morass The Fried council passed a BOND ORDINANCE FOR $1MM for dredging and wall building. In 2011. The TOWN issued $500,000 in SHORT TERM NOTES against this project. Again, in 2011. Why did they need half a mil for a project that wasn't even bid out? The article above is very confusing. It talks about 6,000 linear feet. Soil is dredged in units of VOLUME, i.e. cubic yards. Not linear feet. Here's what I think: 1. There is a firm budget and the contractor has been told, in essence, "do whatever dredging you can but don't spend more than $800K." 2. This means the possibility of another half you know what job. 3. This is exactly what happened the last time. We ran out of money and told the contractor "do what you can within the budget." He did virtually nothing except empty and refill the pond. There was an A&P shopping cart stuck in the mud after the pond was drained. They didn't even bother to remove it. 4. You then have to ask why the Ordinance was passed for $1MM. 5. It is totally beyond me why sampling of the silt was not done before any bids were sent out. Why would anyone tell the vendor "just guess." It could be zero to remediate. It could by $1MM.
frank rubacky January 04, 2013 at 11:43 PM
The current pond wall was built in 1992. The last dredging was probably done around the same time as it would never pass EPA approval as a stand-alone project if in the late 90's. The Mtc Times said the grant was for $726k, not $800k. The $1MM figure came from the original plan for the town throw in $274K.
Cary Africk January 04, 2013 at 11:44 PM
(cont) Last time the pond was drained the fish were relocated to Yancataw Park. I don't know about the turtles, though. I think they might dig themselves into the mud and thus would be in danger of getting dredged. This business about contamination bothers me. Essentially, water flows from streets around town into the pond. "Naturally occurring" contamination? Well, here's one "natural" contaminant. Remember when the town used to put down stone on the streets and spray it with oil/tar? Well that's what's down there, among other things. This whole mess could have been avoided if the silt had been tested as the first order of business. But then again, the consulting firm first hired -- the three person firm? -- did not, I was told, have the expertise to do the testing.
frank rubacky January 05, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Cary, you know this project better than probably anyone. Are we $72K-82K out of pocket before the change orders and contractually accepted overruns - although this is a Gross Maximum Price deal. I guess that is why we picked GMP Contracting.
Cary Africk January 05, 2013 at 04:51 AM
frank, At one time I had the letter outlining the total green acres money for Edgemont and other projects. The grants were well over $1MM. We can certainly pay more than $800K, especially if the $800K part is a grant. From what i've gathered the administration believes the most important part of the project is the wall, and they are willing to do less dredging THAN NECESSARY to get the wall done, with the thought that they can come back and do the proper amount of dredging in the future. Thus, if it would have cost us another $200K to do the project RIGHT, $200K of "our own" money, when we go back and do it again it might cost us $500K of our own money in dredging. This is extremely poor planning, but typical of what we get in Montclair. And again, we get back to the contamination.Just how much are we saving to dump our soil at Montclair State rather than in a proper facility? Oh, and here's a good one that STILL might be a part of the proposal. At one time, if the soil wasn't "too" contaminated they were going to spread it on the fields at Edgemont!!! When I said "it will suffocate and kill the grass" I was told "it will grow back, eventually."
Christine Adams Beckett January 05, 2013 at 12:37 PM
The Friends of Edgemont Park is a volunteer organization whose goals are to improve and preserve Edgemont Memorial Park. We have reviewed the plans for the new walls and dredging of the pond in detail and have been closely following the progress of the project. Over the past year we’ve had a number of meetings with the township staff who have kept us fully informed about the project, and have worked with us to address a number of our concerns. The New Wall Construction & Dredging Project for Edgemont Pond will be funded largely by a Green Acres grant from the State (http://www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres/). Green Acres grants are partly direct grants, and partly low interest loans from the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). This Green Acres Grant was awarded to the Township for improvements to Mountainside Park, Kaveny Field, and Edgemont Park, specifically including major improvements Edgemont Pond. Cont....
Christine Adams Beckett January 05, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Part 2... The Friends of Edgemont Park has been pleased with the current administration's handling of the wall and dredging project. Under the leadership of Mayor Jackson and with our councilor Robin Schlager and the Town Council, the Township has been proactive in finding ways of working with the winning contractor to keep the costs of the project within the grant budget. Most notably, Jackson's experience as a developer enabled him to recognize that fill taken from the dredge could be used as landfill (pending the test results), instead of having to pay for its disposal. As a result the Township has negotiated a potential deal with Montclair State University to take the dredged material at no cost to the town. In regard to ecology of the pond, it’s our understanding that there are guidelines from the State Department of Environmental Protection that specify how to preserve the wildlife, and these must be followed by the Township and contractor for this project.
Christine Adams Beckett January 05, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Part 3... As taxpayers and as Friends of Edgemont Park, we are pleased that after many delays, the project will finally be realized in 2013 in an economically responsible manner, and that it will be a major improvement to the Park enjoyed by so many. We also will be actively observing the construction progress. We welcome you to join us, too, in preserving and improving Edgemont Park. Please visit us at http://friendsofedgemontpark.com/ for more information.
Cary Africk January 05, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Edgemont Park has the potential to be magnificent. Look at Anderson Park, or Verona Park. They are beautiful. What they both have in common is that money and care were invested. The Friends supply that care. They have demonstrated this is abundance. The Town must supply sufficient funding. The goal must be to dredge the pond, and build the walls properly. The goal should not be "let's do whatever we can within a certain, artificial, budget." The Administration rejected bids to do the entire job for $820,000 saying it was "over $800,00." The prior Council passed an Ordinance for $1MM. Not the artificial $800K. I want the project done right. I do not think the current plan will do that.
Sara Santora January 05, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Thanks Chris. I'm so glad to see this is happening
frank rubacky January 05, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Thanks Cary and Ms Adams Beckett. So, I now have clarity on the finances. $300K is township funding (non-bonded and we can use GA low-cost financing) and $500K is a direct grant. I can only assume the other $200K went to Kaveny Field and the new baseball fencing at Mountainside. It would have been cheaper to ask us power hitters to bat righty to keep us from plopping ball into the pool.
john clue January 05, 2013 at 03:58 PM
The one big issues here that comes up - other than funding - is containment dredging. To not have tested this before the project began is really dumb. There are so many firms within a "stone's throw" of Montclair that could have done that testing and for a decent price. Why would anyone proceed with a project if they do not know what is contained in the slug? The dredging of the materials, if contaminated is an EPA issue that could cost the town money and fines. Where to move it depends upon testing and etc. I start to wonder about our Mayor now. Everyone says he is a developer.........so what!! That doesn't mean he knows how to look at projects like this.
Christine Adams Beckett January 05, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Mr Clue, it is my understanding that this test is actually the second test that was done. The first one came back clean. The second, requested by MSU, will determine if it will be suitable for their purposes.
frank rubacky January 05, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Ms Adams-Beckett, Cary thought it was 6,000 cubic yards of sludge. I estimate that is about 9,000 tons and about 260 truck trips @ 35 tons each trip. I'm also guessing Upper Mountain Av will be the route to the back of MSU - during the early spring freeze/thaw season. So, this will effectively degrade the roadway life by a factor of 10. My point being, I hope your group can persuade GMP not to use the newly paved North Mountain Ave as an option. Thanks.
Christine Adams Beckett January 05, 2013 at 11:08 PM
We'll certainly make sure the Council knows of your concerns, Mr. Rubacky. As previously mentioned, too, we will be observing the process and hope to post progress on our website under the "News" section regularly. The Friends of Edgemont Park plan on meeting next on January 16th at 7 pm if you care to join us. A well, our Councilor, Robin Schlager, will be holding a meeting for her constituents this coming Monday at 7 pm, also at the boat house. That might be the most efficient way of voicing your concerns. Look forward to meeting you.
frank rubacky January 05, 2013 at 11:24 PM
I sure my point was taken by Ms Schlager, so no need for me to attend. Hopefully, your group will persuade the TC to take a nominal portion to replace the many trees lost in the park from the last several storms as part of this project. On a separate note, I would like groups such as yours (once on firm footing) and Anderson Park's to adopt, so to speak, a pocket park. By adapt, I mean use your advocacy, organizing & subject matter expertise to help others protect the many valuable neighborhood pocket parks. Maybe at your meeting in the Fall I will have done some legwork to verify the legitimacy of this suggestion.
Cary Africk January 05, 2013 at 11:51 PM
i have filled an OPRA Request with the Township this morning. It says: R 12-182 refers to an attached bid from GMP Construction. Please provide a copy of such bid, including any addenda or additional attachments, scope of work, etc.. Please provide a copy of bid requests for ALL testing of silt sampling in Edgemont Pond for the last five years. Please provide written reports of all testing on Edgemont Pond soil/silt/water or other sampling for the last five years.
Cary Africk January 05, 2013 at 11:52 PM
I will also file an OPRA Request stating the following: Please provide a copy of any Green Acres grant or loan awards Montclair has received in the last ten years.
Christine Adams Beckett January 05, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Mr Rubacky, The Friends group is in the process of constructing a Master Plan, thanks to the expertise of a local landscape architect (who is performing his services free of charge), and the original 1935 ERA plan which the Steering Committe has in their posession. The landscape architect is currently pouring over the original plan to see what is left of those original plantings and determining wether or not the ones in the original design are still appropriate ( many were invasive species or simply not available anymore). We hope this plan will be completed by Spring, at which time, we will start fundraising in earnest, and soon thereafter, we hope some real tangible results will be apparent in the park, including the replacement of all those beautiful trees which were tragically lost. As for your pocket park idea, I think it's excellent. We are still in our very early stages of organization but your suggestion is most happily noted. I will also mention it to Ms Schlager on Monday night.
Cary Africk January 05, 2013 at 11:57 PM
cont, The good things about the OPRA Requests: 1. They have to be responded to, at a maximum, of seven days. If the requested material is easily available, e.g. salaries and I would imagine contracts, it has to be turned over immediately. 2. There is a stiff financial penalty for not responding in the required time frame. 3. We will see the documents directly, without their being interpreted by an intermediary. There is a point to be made here. If ALL the actual documents were on line, there would be no room for debate or interpretation. These documents exist electronically and should routinely be put on the website. This is the goal of recent State legislation and discussion.
Cary Africk January 06, 2013 at 12:15 AM
This is wonderful news! I would certainly hope that you would bring your needs for financial support to the Council. In 2012 over $200,000 was planned to be spent "fixing up" ONE tennis court at Canterbury Park, and twice that at Mountainside. The Town has a capital budget. Park improvements should be part of it, and Edgemont is our largest park. Fund raising is important, but the Friends and residents of Edgemont deserve to have their tax dollars spent on the park. It's important.
frank rubacky January 06, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Cary, If your interested and filing OPRAs again, APL out of Fairfield probably did the soil testing. I am told they are held in high regard.
Cary Africk January 06, 2013 at 04:45 PM
One of my biggest criticism of the way things are done in Montclair is that we routinely fail to call upon the experts that reside in Town for help that they would gladly give. I reached out to one of the most knowledgeable environmental engineers in the State, who not only knows the technology but also the law. He has agreed to help me understand the process, and review any data the town may provide.
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 January 06, 2013 at 11:42 PM
So just what and where is this "data the town may provide." Aside from a lot of empty speculation in the press, we do not know where the funds are coming from or who will receive the residents' our tax dollars (township or state), or who has been involved in this process. Sure people who cannot supervise properly their own "multiple toddlers" want gates that other's pay for and the "Friends of . . . " have their own special interests. But this is township and state (?) money from other's pockets. Where is the transparency?
frank rubacky January 07, 2013 at 12:02 AM
The adding a gate - once I really thought about it - is really a no-brainer. Low cost/high return on the child safety alone. Remember, this is no ordinary playground. We put 12' fences around our tennis courts, and they cost a fraction of what this playground cost. Spend the $400.
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 January 07, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Is adding a gate really a "no brainer?" Keep in mind the playground is already surround by a good sturdy and expensive fence. The opening is six feet. The pond another 80 feet away. What are people with "multiple toddlers" doing when at the playground? And who will pay for this? (And please do show me a child-safe gate to match the fence for under 2000 dollars installed.) But this is the problem here. The TC is being congratulated for spending nearly a million dollars on dredging an artificial pond without transparency as to where the money is coming from. Neither the town nor the state has this money. It can only be had by borrowing. So I suppose that someday our multiple toddlers will be paying for the gates they used 25 years ago while their parents sat chatting and knitting by a cozy fireplace knowing their was a gate and the skating pond was deeper. It is always ok to spend $400 or $2000 or $800,000+ if it is money you simply do not have.
frank rubacky January 07, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Well, the playground surface cost was over $125,000. It costs thousands to repair the each act of vandalism. A gate may be a good investment.
Cary Africk January 07, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Oh yes, the playground surface! A unique surface installed and maintained by only one company in the country. Damaged within days of it being installed. The County, which used a similar surface in Brookdale with equally poor results, warned the Town not to use it. Then of course there's the design of the slides themselves. Notice how at the end of the slide, rather than there being a horizontal exit, the slide "dives" into the ground at a 45 degree angle? That's a "no no" in playground design. Compresses toddler's legs. And of course that't the reason for the extra wear on the surface, ie. shoes digging into the surface. I can't believe that I've spent so much time considering every aspect of most every situation.
frank rubacky January 08, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Cary, You mean all that time I was jumping on my parent's mattress, I was compressing my legs?


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