Agreement Reached On National Lead Site

MIDDLESEX COUNTY – County and local officials announced that an agreement was reached last week that will pay National Lead $82.5 million for a 400-acre waterfront property in Sayreville. The agreement paves the way for the remediation and redevelopment of the contaminated property.

As part of the agreement, developer O’Neill Properties will acquire the land through a series of closings. The county will receive $32 million at the first closing on the land, scheduled for May 1. The Sayreville Economic and Redevelopment Agency (SERA) borrowed $39 million from Middlesex County to acquire the land from National Lead. The remainder of the county’s money will be repaid over the next 30 months.

The Middlesex County budget has been held up because the settlement had not been signed. The county had included an anticipated $7.2 million repayment in the budget’s projected revenues. As insurance against a county budget crisis, SERA had agreed to sell $9 million in bonds, but that sale won’t happen if the closing goes through as planned.

“I am pleased to announce that the parties have finally concluded a satisfactory agreement, which accomplishes all the parties’ objectives and defines their obligations and assures the full and prompt repayment of the county loan from SERA,” Crabiel said.

“I am glad that we were able to move beyond our past difficulties in negotiation, and also overcome the crippling terms of some of the initial deals on this very important project,” said SERA Chairman Raniero Travisano. “Finally we can all work together to bring about real change in Sayreville that will benefit the entire community.”

O’Neill’s initial proposals to Sayreville for the property call for creating tree-lined streets, outdoor restaurants, a waterfront promenade, 84 marina slips, a hotel, three million square feet of retail space and 2,000 housing units.

The county had been involved in active and extended negotiations over the past six months with SERA, National Lead and O’Neill Properties. SERA had initially acquired the property from National Lead through condemnation, but the final value to paid was still in litigation.

O’Neill Properties has committed $110 million to the project, including $20 million to remediate the site. The agreement also commits the county to using $8 million from the Open Space Trust Fund to purchase approximately 60 acres of the site to protect environmentally sensitive waterfront areas.

The county will also use another $3 million in Open Space funds to purchase public access easements on a 50-foot wide strip of land along the entire length of the property’s waterfront to protect it and offer public access to the water. O’Neill has agreed to build public amenities on the waterfront land for recreational purposes.

National Lead will be relieved of portions of its responsibility to perform remediation on it, which will be assumed by O’Neill Properties. However, National Lead remains responsible for cleaning up the river, river sediment and the tidal wetlands to the standards of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

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