NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – “Greenhouses are coming down. It is a beautiful sight,” Council President Gary Kapner said at the Monday, June 26 council meeting. It has been a long time, but finally the demolition of the old Ping Wang property greenhouses had started.
The active gas line that was discovered at the site has been capped, enabling the demolition. However, the council is pouring cold water on some of the expectations regarding the potential future use of the property.
Councilman Jim Madden touted the team effort of the council members and borough administration in achieving the current progress regarding the abandoned site. He extended special thanks to Kapner who “cracked whip on this for a number of years” and helped secure a state grant to conduct environmental testing on the site.
In April 2012, Tapinto first reported on Kapner’s efforts to get the abandoned greenhouses torn down and the site cleaned up. Kapner, who has continued to be a vocal advocate for cleaning up the site, created the “Abandoned New Providence” Facebook page to raise awareness of the hazardous site. The property, which has 29 years of tax liens on it, housed two old, broken down green houses. The 1.45 acre property, located off Division Avenue, was abandoned and the last owner failed to respond to any notifications the borough sent out.
The green houses are visible from the NJ Transit Gladstone Line and from nearby properties on Division Avenue and Lavina Court. Approximately 43 percent of the property is located in a flood zone.
Some residents have expressed their concerns and expectations regarding the future of the property. “This is not where the affordable houses are going. This is not where a park is going. This is not where a dog park is going – we are many steps away,” Madden said. We have to test the soil, figure out when that soil test comes back – “expectations are very premature,” Madden said.
The problem with the site is that there is no way to get there, except perhaps by a parachute, Madden joked. The borough does not own the property.
“We just needed to get rid of a public safety hazard,” Kapner explained.
In a post on the New Providence, NJ Community Forum Facebook page, Madden addressed the question of what will go on the site. He wrote there are, “No plans at this time ... In order to test the soil we had to demolish the structures. Engineering will next perform test borings on the soil and file with the proper authorities. If the soil tests clean the Borough will decide whether to exercise the tax liens on the property to take it over or just cap it off, but nothing can be built on the site that I'm aware of...perhaps limited to open space use only...passive recreation, etc.”
Once the soil testing is complete the borough can start considering future options for the site.