Senator Menendez, Jersey City mayor say federal grant gets ball rolling on clean-up of contaminated site for housing use
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 3:00 AM
Charles Hack/The Jersey Journal
Thousands of residential housing units will one day rise on vacant, currently contaminated land in Jersey City thanks to a $1.67 million federal grant, officials announced Monday.
Flanked by Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy and other officials at a site at the southern end of Jersey Avenue near Liberty State Park on Monday, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez said the grant from the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection will not only spur housing development, but create thousands of new jobs.
Out of the total grant, $750,000 will be spent to test for contaminants at the 24.5-acre former industrial property where the press conference was held, officials said.
The Jersey City Redevelopment Agency hopes to attract developers to build a 3,000-unit high-rise residential development, known as Harbor Development, at the site, officials said.
The area is roughly bordered by Jersey Avenue to the east, the New Jersey Turnpike Extension to the west, Mill Creek to the south, and Hudson Bergen Light Rail tracks to the north.
In the past, the area has housed a rail yard, a metal smelter, a paper recycling center, an insulation and waterproofing factory, and a transformer facility.
Officials believe the soil and groundwater at the property is polluted with PCBs, chromium, and metals, including lead.
"I think we can say without fear of contradiction that it needs to be cleaned up, and that is what we started to do today," Menendez said. "We can start putting people to work as we start the process of cleaning up. Once this is done we can put people to work redeveloping the site."
The contamination on the land is "real," said U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck.
"But that doesn't mean the land has to stand vacant for years and years," she said.
The JCRA received an additional $928,000 to create a revolving fund that will provide loans and grants to finance remediation of other contaminated sites in the city, officials said.
This money includes $400,000 to remediate a half-acre site at 441 and 443 Ocean Ave., which has been slated for a 60-unit affordable housing development.