Abandoned gas station site on its way to a new life

Themounds of excavated dirt piled up at the gas station site on Route 571 in Rooseveltmay be removed in the next 45 days.

The dirt has been sitting at the site sinceMay, when the borough hired a firm to remove the underground tanks fromthe nearly 3-acre abandoned site.

CouncilwomanArlene Stinson told the Planning Board Jan. 8 that the borough has initial soil test results, which are not complete.

“The results had to be taken in a series over time,” she told the board. “We don’t have the final results. The initial results were good, but the final results are not done.”

BoroughAdministrator Bill Schmeling said on Jan. 14 that he had just received the waste classification sampling report for the soil. He said the reports that the borough’s environmental consultants have issued regarding the soil have not disclosed any concerns regarding its contents.

“It primarily contained gasoline,which evaporates,” he said. “In fact, the original planwas to let the soil aerate and then replace [it], but further investigation discloses that is not a good procedure.”

The borough will now put together a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the removal of the soil, according to Schmeling.

He reported that the initial bid price the borough set had been too high, since it was based on a smaller soil quantity than what had actually been excavated from the site.

“We were unable to reach an adjusted figure with the contractor,” he said.

Schmeling said he plans to put the new RFP out this month.

“So the dirt should hopefully be removed in the next 45 days,” he said.

The borough has submitted a report on the removal of the tanks from the station to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), according to Schmeling.

“Depending on the DEP’s review and whether it requires the borough to perform any additional work before the borough can receive a no-further-action letter will determine the borough’s next step,” he said. Schmeling said the borough has assigned a committee to review the possible uses of the site.

“They will make recommendations to the council as to the use of the property,” he said.

The Borough Council will have to vote on what to do with the property.

“If the property is sold, it will be put out for closed bids or auctioned,” Schmeling said. “I would expect it will be auctioned.”

The borough administrator said he has received many inquiries regarding the property.

“There is interest in it, and it should be sold,” he said. “One of the issues the committee is looking at iswhat useswould be compatible with the site should it be sold.”

To date, the borough has spent approximately $30,000 on the site for removing the tanks, putting in clean soil and preparing reports for the DEP. The removal of the tanks alone, which T. Slack Environmental Co. ofKenilworth did, cost $20,730.

“Future costs are really dependent on what determination ismade by the DEP,” Schmeling said.

He added that prior to his becoming administrator, the borough also spent money on studies of the station.

“I do not have any real idea of how much was spent in that regard,” he said.

The borough has a $40,000DEP grant for the cleanup. The grant, however, did not cover the cost of the tank removal, which is being paid for by a bond ordinance in the amount of $30,000 coming from the borough’s capital improvement fund. Officials have said that if the borough keeps the parcel and converts it to open space, theDEPwould provide 100 percent of the money needed for the site’s remediation. If the borough sells the land as commercial property, the DEP would only provide 25 percent of the cleanup costs. However, selling or renting the property would also generate tax revenue.

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