By Douglas E. Hall
The Borough Council in a special meeting at the Community Center devoted to funding the remediation and improvement of Veterans Field, voted on Thursday, May 24, unanimously to appropriate $9.7 million for these improvements and a $9.215 million issuance of bonds and notes to finance this project.
The action came after a public hearing where few complaints were voiced. There was a feeling of resignation that hung over those gathered at the meeting, expressed by both borough officials and the relatively small attendance of residents.
A principal issue that was voiced at a previous Council meeting over the fate of several trees in the field that are more than 100 years old was addressed by Mayor James Delany. “Everything will be done to save these trees,” the mayor said.
More to the heart of the matter, Mayor Delany, in a declaration that seemed to sum up the feelings of many on the large expenditure before the town: “There’s no way I’m taking a chance with out children.”
Mary Ellis, an MD who lives in the Colony, quoted from several scientific papers she brought along to the meeting, including one that explained that the state Department of Environmental Protection can provide relief from environmental regulation. She did not advocate seeking such relief and noted that PCBs are present in both the soil of the field and the Hudson River.
Even if there were no pollutants in the soil of Veterans Field, the field has serious drainage problems and can be subject to flooding from the Hudson during storms. The work that is planned for the field will address these problems as well as remediating the contamination.
Veterans’ Field, like most property on the East side of River Road (the river side) once didn’t exist and was part of the Hudson River. The land was under water and subject to river tides. Before 1986, the field, originally built with fill dumped into the river many years ago, was low lying and had inadequate drainage. In 1986 the property to the north of the field was newly developed with the Shelter Bay homes. The builder was found to be in violation of dumping fill in the Hudson River and the DEP ordered the builder to remove the illegal fill from the river. The builder looking for the most economical way of disposing of the unwanted fill offered it to the borough to build up Veterans’ Field. It is this fill that the DEP recently found the following chemicals: Benzo[a]anthracene, Benzo[b]florantene, Benzo[c]pyrene, Indeno (123-cd) pyrene and PCB Aroclor 1260, some of which are considered carcinogenic.
Unlike a special meeting that took place in February addressing the field, there was no discussion about whether there should be a dog run and where it ought to be located. Nor were there any discussions about particular amenities or facilities. The meeting served to bring the town together on the basic needs of the field: remediation and correction of drainage problems. Both of these issues will be addressed by raising the level of most of the field from four to six feet with certified clean fill.