An environmental representative has been assigned to assist Paterson in the process of cleaning up brownfield sites and prepare them for redevelopment, announced state and local officials at the Great Falls on Thursday morning.
State officials said the person assigned through the Community Collaborative Initiative (CCI) program will spend 2-3 days a week in Paterson. Their goal is to assist Paterson to “overcome complex obstacles and open pathways to successful remediation and redevelopment of contaminated sites.”
“Because of our industrial past, we have brownfields,” said mayor Andre Sayegh referring to contaminated and hazardous sites scattered throughout the city. “We need to address them if we’re going to rebuild Paterson.”
Sayegh was joined by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) commissioner Catherine McCabe and New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) chief executive officer Tim Sullivan in launching the initiative.
McCabe said the program has been successful in addressing brownfield sites, particularly in Camden which is undergoing a renaissance. In March, both agencies partnered to expand the program to include Paterson, Bridgeton, Jersey City, Millville, Newark, Paulsboro, Salem City, and Vineland.
Community Collaborative Initiative program has produced results in Bayonne, Camden, Perth Amboy, and Trenton.
In Camden, the program worked with local leaders and experts to start the process to transform a 61-acre landfill into restored shoreline and uplands with new tidal wetlands and recreational amenities for residents. In Perth Amboy, the embedded staff worked to launch the clean up of a 6-acre scrap heap and build a new park on the site. In Trenton, the program helped to advance the redevelopment of the 99-acre Assunpink Greenway Park which will include soccer fields, a waterfront, and other amenities.
McCabe said the embedded representative will also work with community groups. She said the representative has been working with Paterson Habitat for Humanity which has homes close to a dry cleaner, chemical from the dry-cleaning process can get into the ground and result in fumes entering homes in the vicinity.
“We are excited to get to work in Paterson. The Community Collaborative Initiative exemplifies Governor Murphy’s commitment to revitalizing communities in a sustainable way that protects our environment and takes their unique needs into consideration,” said McCabe.
It’s not clear how many total brownfield sites Paterson has. There were 25-30 known sites in the Great Falls District, which is the cradle of the industrial revolution in the United States, said historic preservation director Gianfranco Archimedes.
“These are complicated sites. If brownfields were easily developed, they’d be redeveloped already,” said Sullivan. He said comprehensive planning is needed to redevelop one of these sites.
McCabe said the representative is working with the city on the Allied Textile Printing (ATP) site and the Hinchliffe Stadium.
“Not only are brownfield sites dangerous eyesores, they also take up space that could be put to more productive use. A key component of Governor Murphy’s commitment to investing in communities is helping communities transform these contaminated sites into productive community assets,” said Elizabeth Limbrick, senior brownfields advisor at the EDA. “I am excited to work with Mayor Sayegh, DEP Commissioner McCabe, and the CCI team to bring the NJEDA’s resources for brownfield remediation and revitalization to bear in Paterson to bring new life to spaces that have been vacant or underutilized for years.”