HOPATCONG, NJ – Mayor Sylvia Petillo and Fire Chief Wade Crowley presented a plaque to the Roxbury Township Fire Department in thanks for the help of three companies during Superstorm Sandy.
Representatives of Succasunna Fire Company #1, Port Morris #2 and Berkshire Valley #3 were at the Wednesday, Dec. 5, borough council meeting.
Petillo said she did not learn of how much Roxbury did for Hopatcong until the storm was all over. “I have learned the fire department is a brotherhood, but these guys went above and beyond mutual aid.”
Roxbury assisted Hopatcong in seven structure fires during the storm, went door to door to check on people and manned the fire house so all Hopatcong firemen could attend the funeral of their colleague Thomas McGuire.
Roxbury Chief Kirk Keyes of Succasunna said, “You have a good fire department,” and noted he started as a fire fighter at Hopatcong Hills, Company 4.
The other Roxbury firemen present were First Assistant Chief William Ward of Berkshire Valley and Third Assistant Chief Joseph Perfetti of Port Morris.
Petillo noted the department lost two members recently, the other being Charles Carl.
The customers of the last private well association in the borough will soon be on public water.
Council passed a resolution to waive interest payments for the Arthur Road Well Association when they pay to hook into the borough’s water system. There are 17 customers of the Arthur Road Well. They will pay $500 upfront and the rest of the hook-up payment in installments, Borough Attorney John Ursin explained.
“At one time we couldn’t bring them on. Now with the infrastructure improvements, we can.”
Petillo noted after the meeting at one time every borough resident was served by private water companies that were unregulated.
Now, they are not only served by public water, they also had power during the storm, Councilman Richard Bunce said the last generator was plugged in just weeks before the storm. “We have more wells than generators, but we managed to keep all the pumps on.”
“People don’t realize all of us are looking after the infrastructure,” he said.
Petillo noted the generators were 55 percent grant-funded.
Part of that infrastructure work includes a project in Wildwood Shores, changing the old two-inch pipes to six-inch pipes. Now, “anyone within sight of the main can get people together and hook up.”
At the Elba Point well, water and sewer works are replacing pipe linings and working on a drainage project, Bunce said.
The Rand Street well will soon meet state Department of Environmental Protection Well Hell Protection standards.
The DEP requires an area around the well head kept from any building.
The Rand Street well is near the Goldmeyer property and the state park. The Goldmeyers made a deal with the state to sell some land to the state park and give land around the wellhead to the borough. In return, the borough gave a small lot adjacent to state park property to the state. Borough Council also voted to vacate portions of Rand, Lydia and Anita streets. The streets would never serve any houses, Ursin said. He said this saved the borough a lot of money in fees to get an easement around the well.
Also on water matters, the borough is applying for the third time for a Brownfields grant of $400,000.
After the meeting, Councilman Michael Francis explained benzene was found in a well in River Styx. The state paid to shut that private well, and run public water to the house, but the borough would like to do an assessment of possible other benzene pollution in the River Styx area.
Francis explained assessments are funded through an Environmental Protection Agency grant. The DEP pays for clean-up but not assessment.
“The hardest part is the assessment of hazards,” Francis said. “Once we know what we have, we can mitigate it.”
He explained there is concern for more extensive pollution on the River Styx peninsula because in the 1930's there was a strip of gas stations in River Styx and no one is sure where all the tanks are.
Work at Johnny’s Marina revealed an underground tank half under the road.
The first two grant applications were turned down.
Petillo explained the EPA has a policy of having people from other parts of the country review applications, which could mean someone from Wyoming reading a New Jersey application and not realizing the potential impact on Lake Hopatcong, which is an emergency reservoir and has been used in that capacity.
In addition, they are going up against more extensive Brownfields in urban areas such as Newark and Perth Amboy.
She said each time the grant is turned down reasons are given and the next application addresses those problems. Both Petillo and Francis are confident eventually the borough will prevail.
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