The latest Palmyra Council meeting included updates from Borough Administrator John Gural on the redevelopment area along Route 73, specifically cleanup of the former Fillit Corp. landfill site.
Last year, according to a May 20 article in the Burlington County Times, the state Department of Environmental Protection sued Fillit to compel the company to remedy 380,000 cubic yards of waste left after a company that rented property on the landfill abandoned the site in 2014. Since filing the suit, the DEP appears to have entered into discussions with Fillit and Soil Safe, a soil processing company with eyes on purchasing the landfill.
After being left out of a meeting in Trenton between the DEP, Fillit and Soil Safe, Palmyra officials have sought to secure a place in the talks as the property lies within the boundaries of the borough.
According to the article, on May 13, the borough filed documents in Superior Court to intervene in the department’s ongoing lawsuit.
“The Fillit property is the cornerstone of Palmyra’s 15-plus-year effort to rehabilitate the redevelopment area,” Gural is quoted in the article. “Without Palmyra’s ability to participate, important decisions may be made which will inhibit redevelopment of the site.”
According to the borough administrator, he, Mayor Michelle Arnold and John Hogue, the borough’s environmental engineer and consultant, participated in a meeting with representatives from the DEP to re-emphasize borough officials’ concerns that they were initially prevented from attending the Trenton meeting and to make sure that doesn’t happen in the future.
“I would say they got that message loud and clear,” said Gural. “We received assurances from them, any meeting that the DEP is involved in, in other words that it’s a DEP meeting, with any applicant or any party regarding our redevelopment area we will absolutely be invited.”
The correspondence portion of the meeting included a resignation letter from Municipal Court Prosecutor Stephen Wenger, who has been offered a position with the state Attorney General’s Office. According to Gural, a posting for the open position is up on the borough website boroughofpalmyra.com and in local newspapers. Responses are due on July 15.
“While I look forward to the new position, I will miss working with everyone. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the citizens of Palmyra. It was an honor and a privilege to work with you,” read Wenger’s letter.
Arnold read another letter from state Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, informing borough officials that Palmyra has been selected to receive $343,000 in funding for the ongoing Temple Boulevard enhancements project.
Last year, the borough was awarded a $250,000 Municipal Aid Grant for the project aimed at road work, student and pedestrian safety, drainage, and aesthetic improvements for Temple Boulevard.
Given the magnitude of the project, officials have continued to pursue additional grant opportunities to offset the total cost, expected to reach $1 million. The borough’s April 1 meeting also included a letter from Gutierrez-Scaccetti informing officials Palmyra had been selected to receive $260,000 for the project.
“That’s $853,000 in total so far for Temple Boulevard,” said Gural.
Two ordinances passed on first reading during the meeting, the first providing for various capital improvements and related expenses in and for the borough, appropriating $1,496,700, and allowing the issuance of $1,387,000 in general improvement bonds or notes of the borough to finance said improvements.
According to Gural, road improvements, including the Temple Boulevard project, make up the bulk of the planned capital improvements mentioned in the ordinance.
The second ordinance provided for capital improvements for the borough’s sewer utility, appropriating $132,500, and allowing the issuance of $125,875 in sewer utility bonds or notes of the borough to finance the sewer utility improvements.
A public hearing on the ordinances will be held on July 15.