River Road Convenience Center closed in Princeton

Photo by Philip Sean Curran
Mercer County installed, on sections of Harrison Street in Princeton and in neighboring West Windsor, signs with an image of a smiling turtle to help motorists know when to stop and yield for the reptiles. (Photo by Philip Sean Curran)

The River Road Convenience Center, where residents had been able to drop off bulky items such as lumber and furniture for a small fee, has been permanently closed, according to Princeton officials.

The River Road Convenience Center at 298 River Road initially was closed while the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and Princeton officials investigated allegations of illegal dumping of hazardous material. Those allegations were reported by Planet Princeton in June.

Now, Princeton officials have permanently closed the Convenience Center as part of an overall restructuring of the Department of Public Works and the Sewer Operating Commission – all of which come under the Department of Infrastructure and Operations.

Residents who would have dropped off lumber, furniture and construction debris from do-it-yourself projects at the River Road Convenience Center can put those items out on the curb for trash collection, along with their household trash.

There is a limit of two bulky items per week, such as a mattress and/or box spring, which must be wrapped in plastic; a small couch, desk or chair. The item cannot weigh more than 50 pounds.

There are some items that cannot be placed on the curb for collection. This includes paint – oil, latex, enamel or spray cans – as well as chemicals, propane or acetylene tanks, concrete, stone, cinder blocks, metal or plastic drums, paper and cardboard.

Microwaves and electronic items – computers, laptops, printers and television sets – continue to be banned from trash collection. Electronic items can be dropped off at Goodwill retail store locations in Ewing Township, Bordentown and Columbus, Princeton officials said.

Meanwhile, the investigation into allegations of illegal dumping is continuing.

The investigation has resulted in the dismissal of three employees, including Robert Hough, the former director of Infrastructure and Operations; Thomas Hughes, the former supervisor of Princeton’s sewer operations, who has been charged with bribery for allegedly accepting money form a contractor to dump material at the site; and a third, unnamed employee, according to Planet Princeton.

The town has hired Whitman and Associates, a licensed site remediation firm, to undertake a preliminary environmental assessment of the overall River Road site in order to identify any potential soil contamination as a result of the unauthorized dumping of hazardous materials.

Princeton officials also discovered roll-off containers that held bags of asbestos-containing material that had been placed there by a contractor. The consultant secured the containers with two layers of heavy plastic and removed the contents.