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Soil Contamination Stymies Edgemont Park Dredging Plan

Toxicity results nix a potential cost-savings plan the township had with Montclair State University.

Tests done in preparation for the dredging of Edgemont Park pond found higher than expected soil contamination levels, forcing planners to scrap an extensive improvement plan.

Though the contaminants are believed to be naturally occurring, Business Manager Marc Dashield said the finders were a disappointment for the township. 

“Those ... unfortunately aren’t the best findings,” said Dashield. “These contaminants ... can normally be in the soil, it is just they are at higher levels than what is acceptable" for residential use.  

The soil testing was done in anticipation of dredging the pond. The dredging was expected to make the pond deeper and remove sediment clouding the waters. In addition, the retaining walls encircling the pond will be replaced.  

However, due to the test results, the project will focus primarily on building the retaining wall with limited dredging near the edges. 

“Based on [the results of the testing],” said Dashield, “we would do mostly the wall and as much of the dredging as we can.” 

If the soil did not test positive for high levels of contaminants, the township could have done more dredging at an overall lower cost. The township was in talks with Montclair State University, which would have taken the soil for a construction project at the university.

The township was expecting to dredge about 6,600 cubic yards of material out of the pond if Montclair State University took the soil. The cost of the project would have been approximately $798,000. 

However, the township will now most likely have to dispose of the soil at a environmental facility. With the add transportation and disposal costs, the dredging will be reduced to 3,000 cubic yards to stay under budget for a total cost of about $808,000. 

“We are still going to see what we can do about [the soil],” said Dashield, “but we are very disappointed [with] the results.” 

Although the township paid for both this more comprehensive testing and a previous testing, at a cost of approximately $5,000 each, Dashield said the testing was a “great opportunity” for the township to try and lower the costs of the construction. 

“We at least know [the soil] does not meet residential standards,” said Dashield, “so it definitely can’t be used for clean fill. ... It will be likely that it will be disposed of at a specific facility that disposes of contaminated soil.” 

The cost of the project will be paid for by Green Acres Grants. 

Cary Africk January 11, 2013 at 12:36 PM
The prior Council approve a Bond Ordinance for $1MM. Not $800,000. The pond has not been properly dredged in over 20 years. Each time it's been done its been drone poorly and money was wasted. The $800K is a Grant for dredging. The town needs to put up its own additional money and DO IT RIGHT. The contamination is not a surprise. This is NOT naturally occurring contaminant. It is runoff from the storm water in Upper Montclair. We used to put crushed stone and an "tar" material down to maintain streets. That, among other things is what's down there. Montclair should contribute its own money or return the Grant to the State. Perhaps they could give it to a Town that's willing to use at least some of its own money to take care of its own natural resources. In two years when we look to do dredging again, standards may have changed and it will cost us even MORE money to dredge. This is foolish. The equipment will be in place for "some" dredging. Do it right. Now.
Sarah Young January 11, 2013 at 02:52 PM
What contaminants? At the meeting did anyone ask: if the contaminants are unsafe for residential use, why is it safe for a park where children play?
Reimer Mellin January 11, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Do we know what kind of contaminants? Is there a link to the report?
Cary Africk January 11, 2013 at 10:04 PM
I have the report -- various hydrocarbons. The material cannot be used as fill, either in a residential or non-residential setting. It is not hazardous, but by not removing it one takes the chance that regulations may change and it will become considered hazardous. Or testing several years from now will find the level increased. Bringing in the heavy equipment to do dredging and then doing only half is beyond foolish and shortsighted. Fix the problem!
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 January 11, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Interesting news. Only a week ago the Patch reported: "The contamination was “naturally occurring,” said [Business Manager Marc] 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." The park has always been clean? Or just too dirty to clean up. What is it? Precisely which contaminates where found in the soil and what levels. As Reimer Mellin suggests, all residents need to be able to see this report. The article says that "The cost of the project will be paid for by Green Acres Grants." This is what Christine Adams Beckett of the Friends of Edgemont Park. Cary says that the town again borrowed money to pay for this by issuing last year a Bond Ordinance for 1MM. Which is it? Have the grants been applied for? Received? Does the now received money cover the total cost of the project (not approximately)? This town has a serious debt issue that needs to be addressed. Taxes are already ridiculously high and the services are poorly managed. We need to be informed when the Town Council decides to put us more in debt and when moneys, such as grants, have been secured.
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 January 11, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Hi Cary, Thanks. Perhaps post the report on the Internet for all to see? Much appreciated.
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 January 11, 2013 at 11:15 PM
Cary, thank you for posting this important information. "Various hydrocarbons" contamination appears to point to petroleum sources, which could include common fuels such as petrol, diesel and kerosene and lubricating oils or greases. So it is important to identify the specific contaminants in the report and then to investigate their sources. There is no sense in dredging the pond if the contaminates are regularly flowing into it. It should be stressed that this is quite different than what the Town Business Manager, Marc Dashield, led us to believe: "The contamination was naturally occuring . . . " The public needs to see the report, the type, amount, and depth of contamination. We need to investigate the source(s) and first stop this from continuing to occur. Before the town residents are asked to foot the bill for this project, we need to know where the funding is coming from. Thanks again, Cary, for bringing this out.
wayne kay January 12, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Does the original winning bidder have the capability to dispose of or treat contaminated sediment? Will the project need to be rebid? This may be to significant an item to be handled as an extra.
William Hobbie January 12, 2013 at 01:39 AM
Sarah the final test results had not come in at the last town council meeting. However we were told that the contaminants were hydrocarbons, which makeshift sense as this is a drainage pond and any rain storm washes the street of oils into the storm drains, which end up in the pond. As of this morning the Friends of Edgemont had not seen the final results. We are hoping that we will have them for the meeting on Wednesday the 16th.
frank rubacky January 12, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Cary, Why are you assuming the source is no longer depositing these contaminants?
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 January 12, 2013 at 09:25 AM
Will this be on the agenda for the next Town Council meeting?
Cary Africk January 12, 2013 at 11:34 AM
The Town issues debt which is then paid back by the grant when it is received. Standard procedure. Indeed the schools just received the SDA money for the new school. This was always a "known." ie we always knew the money would be coming yet we had to authorize debt first (it's only for a small part of the new school debt). The money for Edgemont is a grant.
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 January 12, 2013 at 08:42 PM
William, since the pond is a street drain, this means that we will spend close to a million tax dollars to dig out the pond only for it to be continually polluted? Cary, have the Green Acres Grants been secured? If so, for how much. What is the latest the money will reach the town? Will the 1MM bond then be fully paid off, including interest, from these grants? Let's hope that no contracts have been signed until the grants have been secured. William, on what site will you post the contamination report? This affects all Montclair residents and the precise contaminates should be known as well as the depths and levels. We also need to see a report of the sources of the contaminates and how these sources are going to be done away with. Otherwise we will continually be throwing good money after bad.
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 February 01, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Cary Africk and William Hobbie, why has the contamination report on Edgemont Pond not been made public or any information on received grants or contracts already made? Is there something taxpayers are not allowed to know about this huge hole that has already opened up new debt for the town?
Cary Africk February 02, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Dear I'd, With all due respect, this is a question for your Council representative or the Mayor. They are the ones who do not appear to be interested in follow up or clarification.

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