SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) responded to South Orange Trustee Howard Levison’s comments in a previous TAPinto SOMA story, which detailed the hurdles related to South Orange’s River Greenway project.
According to NJDEP Press Director Bob Considine, staff from both the State Historic Preservation Office and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) met with a South Orange village trustee and engineer in May 2016 to better understand the municipality’s project goals. The intent of the meeting was to help South Orange trustees redesign the project to avoid adverse effects to historic properties, including the abandoned pump house and existing bridge.
Under regulations imposed by the NJDOT, projects that adversely affect historic properties are not eligible to receive transportation enhancement grants, stated Considine. This means that the abandoned pump house and existing bridge cannot be affected in any way by the River Greenway project. Federal grants are also forbidden from being used to demolish the existing structures on the property, according to Levison.
Based on the discussion in May 2016, South Orange trustees were “going to see if they could engineer an alternative plan for the project that would not interfere with historic landmarks," stated Considine. He claims that this is where his correspondence with the town ended, and that he and his department are happy to continue offering aid on the project in the future.
“The suggestion that NJDEP is holding up the project due to ‘bureaucratic reviews’ is simply not accurate —and the same rules apply to the grant, no matter whose administration it is,” said Considine in an email.