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Former Ford Land Environmentally OK For Crossroads Development, Experts Say

Experts also say the shopping center will produce a smaller potential for flooding than the undeveloped site does currently

The environmental issues present at the former Ford plant site should not prohibit the Crossroads developer from building a 600,000 square-foot shopping center there, according to Robert Crespi, the developer’s environmental expert. During his testimony Monday night at the in front of Mahwah’s planning board, Crespi said, “The current status of the soil and ground water should not interfere at all with the development of the site.” 

Crespi gave an overview of his analysis of 20 documents relating to Ford’s clean up and decontamination of the Crossroads property. According to Crespi, Ford removed over 200 tons of contaminated soil from the site in the 1980s and is monitoring ground water contamination levels. As of its last reading in 2005, Ford reported what Crespi called an “extremely low” amount of contamination in some of the ground water at the site. Ford is scheduled to test the water again in coming months to see if the contamination has naturally dissipated, he said.

Since the 1980s, Ford has spent over $11 million on the clean up of the Crossroads, Crespi said. “They have done a substantial amount of work here.”

Crespi said he based his analysis on the documented amount of contamination left on the Crossroads land. "Of course, contamination could be found during the construction process, but that is a possibility at any site in the state." He said if contamination were to be found during construction, it would likely be by the contractor, and work would stop until the issue could be mediated or treated.

Crespi’s testimony came after that of civil engineer Michael Junghans, who commented on the drainage plan on the site. Junghans testified that although the development’s site plan calls for a significant paving and the addition of impervious services, the amount of storm water runoff from the land at the site to the Ramapo River would actually be less than what it is now.

Using drainage methods like bio-retention swales, detention basins, and ponds, Junghans said the developer plans to exceed the state requirements for reducing groundwater runoff. Junghans explained that because these methods "promote infiltration" of the stormwater, as opposed to it landing on top of a flat surface like it does now, "you are actually reducing your runoff into the Ramapo River and your potential flooding impact."

According to township engineer Mike Kelly, who reviewed Junghans’s analysis, the developer is proposing to “reduce the peak rate of runoff of what’s currently leaving the site,” by percentages higher than what’s required by the DEP. However, resident Rich Wolf pointed out that the calculation includes only land that is going to be developed. So, runoff from current structures and blacktop on the property, like at the , is not calculated in the state requirement.

Junghans also testified that the developer’s drainage plan will only work if the system is properly maintained, and the developer can be held liable for that. And, the engineer agreed to looking into ways that the collected water could be used as an irrigation tool, if possible.

Both board members and residents questioned the environmental and drainage analyses of the site. Crespi is set to continue his testimony at the next hearing, scheduled for July 9. Board Chair Todd Sherer said he expects the board to have “a lot of questions” on the environmental impact of the development.

Also at the meeting, Crossroads attorney Jim Jaworski said he should have meaningful data back from the Department of Transportation. “Hopefully, we should be able to give you their feedback on the outside the site,” he said.

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Have a question or a news tip? Email the editor Jessica Mazzola at jessica.mazzola@patch.com. Or, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your email inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Gottardo DiGiacopo June 14, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Hank, i was there for the students presentation and appreciated it fully for what it was. their professor was also a fine and insightful person. they were all a pleasure to meet. as for going on-line to compare their course level against another so that i could call them 'lightweights' & say 'they're not the real deal', that's your life not mine. p.s. i hope you thanked the Patch for changing your diaper ;O)
Jonathan N. Marcus June 14, 2012 at 08:44 PM
knowitall: I do not understand your post and why you would bring my children up. If you are referring to my above post concerning what our students at Ramapo did in their contamination research, I simply sought to provide the facts about what was done. Our students did not conduct environmental testing (nor were they expected to). What they did do was go to great measures to conduct research with regard to all the publicly available data on the contamination at the site. They did a brilliant job of piecing together data from many sources in order to help paint a picture that, quite frankly, I suspect many folks were not aware of. For instance, were folks aware that until recent years there were ACTIVE air strippers on site at the Crossroads to deal with vapor contamination? I applaud the time and effort these students put into their senior project. It was an incredible experience for them and one I am sure will be with them for a lifetime.
Andy Schmidt June 14, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Jonathan, facts are inconvenient - because they are so hard to argue. So - when you start providing facts, the only response people have left is personal aggression. I always take any personal attack as a compliment - because it confirms that I'm right (otherwise, the response would have been a dispute specific to the subject matter - assuming certain intellectual ability).
Jonathan N. Marcus June 14, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Andy: I do find it such a shame that folks on Patch will, from time to time, resort to personal attacks. We are all neighbors. The reason I post under my real name is that I truly enjoy getting to know others in my town. It is so nice when I go someplace around town and end up meeting someone because they heard me say my name and they remembered engaging in a discussion with me on Patch or simply seeing a post I might have left. To me, that is the true beauty behind a "local" forum such as this. It is wonderful to be able to connect with my fellow townspeople and engage is discussions about issues common to all of us. While I certainly do not always agree with everyone on these forums, it is great to be able to engage in civil discussion and debate so that I can see other viewpoints. It is really disheartening when such discussions breakdown into personal attacks. What I find interesting is that such personal attacks usually come from folks who hide behind screen names. It is so easy to attack someone when you can do it anonymously. I guess that is the beauty of the internet..... In any event, I continue to enjoy reading all the comments and discussions on Patch. We are very lucky to have such a forum available to us in our town.
Andy Schmidt June 15, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Agreed. On occasion, I hear from someone with insight on a matter, even willing to share some documents that help clarify an issue, and I've always benefited from having a chance to refine, reaffirm or even revise my thinking. But I've never experienced any negativity. Some people who disguise their identify compensate for lacking integrity by at least publicly "acting" aggressive. Probably just a way of preserving some self-esteem.

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