TRENTON – Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello announced Tuesday that portions of Lodi, Kearny, Plainfield, Rahway, Somerville and Woodbridge have been designated as state Brownfield Development Areas. The new designations will help these municipalities work toward their redevelopment goals.
“Most of these newly designated areas, as in Plainfield, are creating traditional, walker-friendly downtowns with access to train stations, while Woodbridge is reclaiming land contaminated by past industrial activities to develop cutting-edge businesses that conserve and recycle resources,” Mauriello said.
Brownfields are properties that have been abandoned or underutilized because of known or suspected contamination. The DEP’s Brownfield Development Area program allows communities to designate clusters of brownfield sites for coordinated remediation and redevelopment.
Municipalities that have been designated are eligible for grants of up to $5 million each year from the DEP’s Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund for investigation and remediation. A case manager assists the communities in overseeing remediation, obtaining financial assistance and coordinating revitalization efforts with other state agencies.
Communities bring together various stakeholders to develop applications for designation. These stakeholders include owners of contaminated properties, potentially responsible parties, developers, community groups, technical experts, and residents. Municipal adoption of a formal redevelopment plan is required.
Plans for the six newly designated areas include:
• Lodi is looking to re-create a downtown district between the borough hall and Route 46 with retail and office space that will serve as a focal point for the community. Properties include a vacant rail spur, an abandoned commercial building and the sites of former chemical and dye manufacturers.
• Kearny plans to develop mixed senior-citizen housing, commercial facilities and a riverfront walk on properties along the Passaic River that were the site of steel and metals factories, a linen mill and chemical processors.
• Plainfield plans to revitalize its central business district by redeveloping a number of vacant and underutilized properties with a mix of small-scale commercial establishments such as banks, health spas, pharmacies and restaurants. The city wants to enhance the district’s proximity to the Plainfield rail station.
• Rahway is looking to improve its business district with a 1,100-seat amphitheater and black-box theater within walking distance of the Rahway train station. Rahway also wants to acquire an apartment complex with the intention of attracting artists.
• Somerville plans to strengthen its economic vitality by redeveloping an old landfill and parking lots near the Raritan River with mixed-used developments that will have access to NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley rail line.
• Woodbridge wants to clean up past industrial contamination at properties along the Raritan River and develop the area as an eco-park that allows companies to use each others’ wastes as resources. The township is also developing a resource-recovery park for recycling, compost processing and other resource reuse.
Launched in 2002, the program is now working on 31 Brownfield Development Areas across the state. Previously designated areas are in various stages of investigation, cleanup and redevelopment.
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