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Ramapo Students To Present Crossroads Environmental Assessment

Presentation to government officials will be open to the public

A group of students who have been working on a not-yet-professional environmental assessment study of the site of the proposed Crossroads Town Center shopping complex will present their findings to Mahwah government officials next week.

The 18 senior environmental studies students will present their research to the Mahwah Environmental Commission next Wednesday, May 2, at 7 p.m. at . The meeting is open to the public. The Environmental Impact Statement the students prepared is similar the professionally-prepared studies currently being .

The Crossroads development – which is designed as a 600,000 square foot retail and dining complex with a lifestyle, pedestrian-friendly shopping center, two big box stores, and a movie theater – is proposed for the land at the intersections of Routes 17 and 287 surrounding the . Part of the site used to house the largest Ford Motor Co. plant in the US.

According to the class’s professor, Dr. Mike Edelstein, “the parts of the presentation regarding Ford might be some of the most interesting. The students have put together a history of the contamination and clean-up efforts at the site.”

During a last week, the class brought up several concerns surrounding Ford’s continued environmental impact on the site, including the possibility of contaminated soil and groundwater still existing there, the “persistence” of some of the chemicals that have been found at the site in the past, and the possibility of “vapor intrusion,” a process in which buried contamination could seep into the air.

“We have found an extremely convoluted history in this area,” Edelstein said. “I think the full presentation will be very helpful.” The students will present their findings to the township’s Environmental Commission, which acts as an advisory body to the Planning Board. Testimonies by environmental, engineering and traffic experts have been ongoing at Planning Board hearings since February.

Though the environmental component regarding Ford’s cleanup at the site has not yet been presented, the Crossroads developer has said the responsibility to mitigate any remaining issues lies with Ford. Any potential environmental action at the site will likely be decided by the EPA.

“The more we know about the environmental history and current condition of this place, the better,” Environmental Commission Vice Chair Dan Weixeldorfer, who also serves on the township’s planning board, said. “This [Ramapo] presentation will definitely help us make sure that we are asking the right questions, and ensure that if a cleanup needs to happen here, it happens.”

In addition to the Ford impacts, the students will also present other findings on the current state of the land at the site, and the potential ecological, physical, traffic and socio-economic impacts of the development.

Government officials and college staff say the is part of an effort to strengthen the relationship between the college and the township. Edelstein said the project is a “win-win,” because students get first-hand experience and the township gets an objective researcher looking at the application.

The students conducting the research include Hannah Bernstein of Colts Neck, NJ, Barbara Bodden of Hawthorne, NJ, Chris Brillante of Pompton Lakes, NJ, Matt Danko of Wantage, NJ, Karen Doughtery of Ramsey, NJ, John Grande of Blairstown, NJ, Michael Hitchoff of Montville, NJ, Daniela Hoffner of Lanoka Harbor, NJ, Robert W. Keller III of Wood-Ridge, NJ, Sonya Kougasium of Bergenfield, NJ, Scott McNally of Vernon, NJ, Keith Passaro of Ringwood, NJ, Danielle Peters of Bloomsbury, NJ, Willard Reasoner of Flemington, NJ, Bob Rieder of West Milford, NJ, Kelly Schaeffer of Central Valley, NY,  and Elizabeth Thompson of Middletown, NJ.

Kevin May 05, 2012 at 04:21 PM
When your taxes do not go down, you have to battle the mall to get to the foolish ball field, flooding worsens and accidents rise, response time goes down, service calls go up, traffic stands still, delays take place, values drop, taxes go up to account for new hires, clean up prices rise and over all environment issue worsen what is the plan to correct it. None because the builder will say we did what you passed as an ordinance. We owe you nothing. Great work guys. This is all worth it for the limited jobs and roast beef Hank. Please use your thoughts and experiences to add what you think is solid and right and not be swayed by JP and his nonsense.
JP May 12, 2012 at 03:08 AM
None of that, not one thing you mention, is going to happen Kevin. You may not believe it, you may not even want to believe it, but that is the way it's going to go down. Experience tells us that almost every controversial project started in this town the same way. First there's the whining, then there's the changes, then the building follows, and then... nothing! No dire consequences, no sky falling, no end of the world because we put up a new site, nothing. You call it nonsense and I say it's you and your rant that's nonsense. We'll see who's correct when we're both shopping at the new "Life Style Center". (You'll shop there, right? I'm betting you will.)
JP May 12, 2012 at 03:19 AM
I don't think that's correct Andy. I don't think the opponents actual DO have the town's concern in mind and only use that as an excuse because it looks oh so much better. I personally think most of them DO have their own little personal agendas and biases having nothing to do with the town. Some of them are the exact same whiners that oppose EVERY new building project in Mahwah.
Kevin May 12, 2012 at 03:19 PM
JP what you fail to realize is people voicing concerns about the mall will result in this being a better area and project. It is ok that you will not give us credit. Pilot is a better building and result because residents came out and voiced concerns. No need to thank them. The project being a success is enough thanks. If we have a contingency plan in place we can overcome these issues when they arise. It is to bad JP you are very shortsighted in these concerns. By the way I can tell you drank the kool-aid your calling it a life style center, It is a mall. I am not opposed to retail there but a mall is problematic for a town that does not have one. If done right I would go but if it is a place with issues I will not. I bet you think the ball field is a good idea too. Do you think Sharp closing its doors and expanding the mall is a good idea? Come down off your soap box and join reality and help resolve thing instead of going on about how all is alright. I find it hard to believe you do not have one issue with any portion of the project. Not one concern because if you do not that tells me you are not as well rounded as you feel you are.
Andy Schmidt May 12, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Got it, JP - you are holding your hands to your ears, because everyone with a different view has bad intentions. That's one way to always be right <G>. Finally explains why nothing is getting through.
JP May 14, 2012 at 04:55 AM
I actually DO have an issue with the construction Kevin. I would rather see the whole project under a closed roof. An enclosed center. Make it a REAL mall. A place to enjoy (inside) in the winter, but I realize that people would literally freak out if they suggested that.
JP May 14, 2012 at 05:23 AM
You can accuse me of a lame excuse like that Andy, but the very core of your objection to this project (they had no right in changing the zoning without a pre-change referendum) isn't valid. It was a legitimate move by our town council and mayor and they had every right and the responsibility by their elected status to do it. You and 2000 others in this town may not like the decision, but it wasn't you (plural) who were making it. Your elected representatives were. There might be a lot of things in this town I might not like, but I accept them. We don't run this town based on what every towns-person individual whim or agenda is. Our council members strive to make educated fiduciary decisions for the good of all of us. You seem to want to object to that principle (when YOU don't like it), so maybe you'd like the town folks to vote on every single individual item that needs to be decided upon and just let majority rule? Don't think so. As to the project now having "third party" input as to changes that can make it the best center it can be, that's all well and good, but I had no doubt from the beginning that the project will be great "as is" without your input or anyone else butting into it. So why wouldn't you, unless you have trust issues with things like this. I inherently BELIEVE any problems arising WILL be solved. Do you think the developers, the council, the mayor, the planning boards, the construction company are all idiots? That's insulting to me and them.
Andy Schmidt May 14, 2012 at 01:20 PM
JP - in the absence of substance, you now try false quoting? >> the very core of your objection to this project: they had no right in changing the zoning << In fact what I did state on 3/5 was precisely the opposite: "they were in their legal right" But, having a right is not he same as doing the right thing! We all have the right to get it WRONG! Why do you think that countries give the right to "free assembly" and why freedom of speech and freedom of the press are so jealously guarded principles? If you want people to cheer the government 100% then let's build it in North Korea! Sometimes government (on any level) DOES get it wrong (they too are only people and subject to error). In that case, the constitutions/basic laws of many countries have safeguards in place so that the press can investigate and report the news, even if it's inconvenient - and people have the right to join in opposition. Did I think the decision for the mall was made by "all idiots"? No, and I never even remotely implied that - hard as YOU might try. I do think the council and mayor are elected to got about the business of managing the daily affairs fo the town, making decisions, entering into (some even long-term) contracts, etc. But I do feel that it would have been the "right" thing to be modest with the "power" assigned to them, by checking BACK with their constituents on an issue that very obviously is dividing the town and take that feedback into consideration FIRST.
Kevin May 14, 2012 at 03:15 PM
"Do you think the developers, the council, the mayor, the planning boards, the construction company are all idiots? That's insulting to me and them." It is also insulting to us to think we do not have solid issues that need to be addressed. We do. The town is locked into those town ordinances now and the owner does not have to give in to anything so we are screwed. So to answer your question YES. To a degree they were idiots when they passed them.
Kevin May 14, 2012 at 03:26 PM
By the way do not flatter yourself JP no one will waste their time harassing you if you revealed who you really are. You hide because you cant stand on your own two feet in public when it comes to this issue. I stand by what I say and have at a meeting. I would respect you and your stance if you did. Until then it is just yadda yadda yadda and blah blah blah I here from you. I offered to sit down with you and go over this issue over a cup of coffee because we can have an adult two way conversation about it. Maybe thoughts change ideas grow understanding develops. We may agree to disagree but we would have an understanding to the other side of the issue. The meaning and tone sometimes is lost in this type of communication because the reader sometimes assumes the delivery as one thing when it is really meant another way. So again I offer to you lets sit down and chat.
JP May 15, 2012 at 11:02 PM
No thank you Kevin. I want our viewpoints and issues made here on Patch, open and public for everyone to see and join in if they choose. You should be able to hold your own here, shouldn't you?. If understanding (as you say) develops, and with the project moving forward as of now, why is it you don't seem to have embraced the idea of it getting built? You still seem very angry about it with your unrealistic negative expectations in above posts. Don't believe me, just wait a few years and see for yourself.
Kevin May 16, 2012 at 05:53 PM
You really do not listen. You hear what you want and block out want you do not like. You are hiding behind a computer and that is cowardly. You have little ground to stand on hiding behind JP. If we knew what you are about you would be more accepted in your views. I said I would be for retail not a mall. I can not make that any clearer. There are issues with this mall and how a set of elected officials voted yes for it with out thinking it through completely. They should be held accountable they dropped the ball big time. The person who fails to see the other side is you. You are of a one track mind. In a few years if this is a success I can admit I was wrong. You on the other hand would swear all is ok if it is a failure finding excuse after excuse to justify your point of view. You JP should hang up your patch account because you are wasting everyone's time here. You cant look a person in the eye and speak about this because you think someone anyone is going to take time out their day to harass you. You are not that important Sir your just not. Get over yourself. By the way I would say that face to face to you and say it politely too. I bet you would be a mess speaking in front of a room of people trying to make a point.
JP May 17, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Kevin, I'm going to point out to you something I've already said over and over again and somehow you just don't get. The council and mayor, as our elected officials, had (and still have) every legal right to change the zoning without any input from the residents. It's something you need to get over and manage. It's water under the bridge. In your mind, and some others, they need to be held accountable... for what??... for doing their jobs??
Kevin May 17, 2012 at 02:10 PM
JP do not go away mad just go away.
Andy Schmidt May 17, 2012 at 03:41 PM
...for using the power and trust (the "rights") vested in them by the voters in a manner that did NOT represent a majority of the voters' vision for the township. Having been voted into a position doesn't mean that you are unaccountable to your voters during your term. While they may have looked at the Crossroad decision as merely a "fiscal" matter - one that brings tax revenue into town earlier rather than at some undetermined future - that does not mean that the majority of the voters agreed that the money was worth the trade-off. We all sometimes very consciously make decisions that are against our own "quantitive" monetary interests, because we factor other "qualities" in the equation of what's "best" for us overall.
JP May 17, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Not a chance Kevin, not until that center is up and functioning.
ddevine May 17, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Those that call us lucky to have someone like the Crossroads developer want to build in our town are either dense or totally ignorant, or have never run a business before. Private capital is not benevolent. People invest where they think they can get a good return. Mahwah is not lucky at all and it may be the exact reverse. It is a desirable town because of the people here and it's geographical location puts it in the crosshairs of developers. Developers look at this town and see green. Green cash that is. So let's cut the bull and start treating this town as if it was up for sale. Treat it like a rare commodity that has to be protected. If you don't you will not recognize it in a few years and instead of it being the largest township in the county, it will be the biggest city in the county. How far do you think we are from being a big city?
JP May 17, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Wait a second Andy, I contend that they DID represent the majority of citizens in Mahwah at the time of their decision and had every thought in mind of doing the right thing for Mahwah and that site. We didn't have this outpouring of grief about the mall until the opponents ginned up everyone to a frenzy during the summer months and had to put it on a non-binding (ie:irrelevant) referendum (which was just appeasement to shut them up for awhile). You're assuming the same negative sentiment existed way back in May of 2011 when this zoning change was made. I don't think so. I would bet that most of the people living here could have cared less what was happening with that site (15,000 of them still don't) until they were moved to protest in a chain reaction fashion started by someone who had a personal agenda against this project and let it tangent off in all directions. You actually should be questioning THAT person and wonder why it is that opponents like that are even allowed to disrupt town business in that fashion to the point of eventually having to defend both sides of this issue with local tax payer money. THAT's what you should be angry about, not the council doing their jobs.
JP May 17, 2012 at 06:12 PM
That's one of the most ridiculous arguments that keeps coming up occasionally about this project. Like I've said before and I'll say again, they aren't building this mall on top of town square, it isn't on Franklin Tpk, there are no houses on the land, it's not near the mayor's office, nor is it anywhere near YOUR home. It's begin built on private property which is severely under-utilized and is becoming an eyesore. If you think that having new business there is not conducive to the economy of this town, then you have NO idea of what you are talking about.
Andy Schmidt May 17, 2012 at 06:38 PM
All we actually KNOW for certain is that WHEN the voters were actually asked to consider everything the developer, the council AND the opponents had to say for and against, the majority of voters did not approve of the zoning change. Prior to that we know that enough residents were concerned to sign the necessary petitions, and to take time from their scheduled to ask the council to poll the residents before acting on the issue.
JP May 18, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Yeah, many weeks after the changes were made, when certain people had enough time to gin up anti-council sentiment and let 2000 townspeople be used for their political agenda by getting them to sign (what turned out to be) a useless petition and pointless referendum. You see my point Andy don't you? Where were all the protests in the many weeks before the council took the final vote to approve the zoning change? Where was the campaign then to persuade them to not approve it? Non-existent? The whole anti-mall fiasco, subsequent petition and vote was, initially, purely a result of some people feeling they weren't "asked for their blessing" before the decision to change the zoning was made. All the other issues like traffic and flooding, and now environmental problems were added on as superfluous cover to justify their personal protest. They used those people because they knew they couldn't get anywhere as a small group, so the call was made to "take it to the people!!! Let them decide!!!" Yeah ok, so. What did that prove? Nothing? So don't blame the council for a decision they made while performing their jobs, with doing the correct thing in mind at the time. The only thing they should be blamed for is caving to the pressure of a very small percentage of the citizens of this town and really screwing things up. They should have stood their ground and not go backwards. Now they'll be sued no matter how the end result turns out.
Mahwah Resident May 18, 2012 at 01:54 AM
JP, the only eyesore is your initials JP on the Mahwah Patch. Why don't you be man enough and use your Real name instead of hiding and arguing with everyone. By the way JP I hope this mall never gets built.
JP May 18, 2012 at 02:46 AM
If it doesn't get built it won't be because of people like you Resident. Why don't you (try) and argue for your "side" here on Patch and add to the conversation instead of automatically dismissing mine with your (always) snarky remarks (similar to what happens at town meetings lately). BTW, I don't happen to see your real name on any of your posts either. Pot, meet kettle...
Andy Schmidt May 18, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Of course, the other possibility is that your fellow townspeople aren't just dumb sheep who followed the pied piper to the polls, as you consistently paint them to be (just because that could be the only possible reason that they have an opinion differing from you). The alternative is that they have at least as much intelligence as you, JP, and after assessing the benefits and risks actually prefer no mall -- imagine that... that 2,000 people could be right...
wendya May 18, 2012 at 04:19 AM
JP, you have got to stop calling people out. It's bullying. Nobody likes bullies.
wendya May 18, 2012 at 04:23 AM
JP, by your analysis, any land that is not developed is being under utilized?
JP May 18, 2012 at 07:46 AM
Wendy, aren't the real bullies the opponents of this mall who applied pressure type tactics to force our local government into a compromising and iffy reverse zoning position subjecting this town into the possibility of a multi-million dollar lawsuit if this center does not get the go ahead now? You are right, no one likes bullies. They dished it out to the council, now let them face the facts that all their misdirected effort to try and get this project stopped at the planning stage didn't work. I'm sorry but I must be bluntly honest with them. All this talk of the town going to hell after this project is complete is just sheer fantasy and wild conjecture. And no, I do not want all our land developed, just the ugly rundown area by the Sheraton will do. Lets build something Mahwah can be proud of on ribbon cutting day.
Andy Schmidt May 18, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I don't think the term "bully" is used when those being governed (the "underdog") by their elected representative (the ones holding the power), are protesting against the way they are being governed and seek to be represented. (You wouldn't call the "underdog" the bully, when he uses every available *legal* means to stand up for himself.)
CathyL May 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Andy, I am for the underdog. It's the American way. But this forum should not be used to out somebody when you run out of words to present your argument. Using every available legal means to stand up for yourself is good, but is it moral if standing up for yourself could make it a living hell for your neighbor? I could play my stereo as loud as I want everyday until 9 pm. It's legal. But is it moral? I could bet my entire salary on a loosing horse and not have enough to buy a good meal for my kids. It's legal because my kids can always eat junk food but is it moral? Being legally right is not always moral.
CathyL May 18, 2012 at 04:35 PM
It's going to be challenge for a township to remain a township. You have 287 and 17 going through it. They develop a bit here and a bit there. What's the harm in that? Eventually you run out of land, the manufacturing and retail population exceed the residential population, the local roads get congested, you need more traffic controls, infrastructure, sidewalks, wider roads are needed, and before you know it, Mahwah town becomes Mahwah City. We are well on our way there.

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