Roosevelt Avenue extension will be closed for six weeks for remediation

NORTH BRUNSWICK – The second to last phase of the remediation project involving North Brunswick Township High School (NBTHS), Veterans Park and Roosevelt Avenue is underway.

As of Sept. 21, the Roosevelt Avenue extension will be closed in its entirety for about six weeks, through Oct. 30, as crews track and tag soil that was contaminated from the park entrance toward the high school. The road will be fully reconstructed, along with curbing and limited sidewalk replacement.

The high school will be fully accessible from Raider Road and the park will be fully accessible from the Fillmore Drive entrance, Michael Hritz, director of Community Development, said during a Township Council meeting on Sept. 14.

Anyone trying to go from Judd Elementary School to the high school will have to go out to Route 130.

Staff of Judd Elementary will be redirected from Fillmore, and the gate from Fillmore to the playground should be open, Hritz said.

Pedestrians and bicyclists should be able to get through the park, Hritz said, as the sidewalk on the park side is largely unobstructed.

A concurrent project affecting residents off Roosevelt Avenue by Taylor Place and Halsey Road should be completed by Thanksgiving, Hritz said.

There should be one more project prior to the completion of the entire remediation project, Hritz said. The other side of the road, near Silver Hollow and a wooded area, has some remaining elements of contamination, he said.

Industrial waste was dumped at NBTHS and the park site decades ago; a refuse trucking business operated a property adjacent to the area on Roosevelt Avenue through the 1960s.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) previously investigated the site in 1971 and in 1985.

In 1985, “a field contractor putting cable wire underground near the high school found buried drums and thousands of lab bottles approximately 3 to 15 feet below the surface near the soccer field,” according to DEP records.

DEP records state that remediation of the contamination that was discovered in 1985 consisted of “the excavation of an area 10 by 150 feet that was filled with topsoil and sod.”

The excavated material, which New Jersey Health Department Dr. Don Patel deemed “not harmful,” was moved to “the northwest edge of the school where it was covered with clean fill and sod,” according to DEP records.

Tak Construction, a contractor working on the $29 million renovation project at the high school, located the waste material while digging at the northwest end of the high school in July 2003.

Litigation against the responsible parties is ongoing.

Township Attorney Ronald Gordon said a special counsel will brief members of the Township Council in October about the status of the litigation.

“The process is still ongoing,” Gordon said, “but this is a crucial part of it and an important part in getting Veterans Park and the roads back up and running.”

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com