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South Amboy Announces Jersey Central’s Building Demolition

By Joseph L. Kuchie —

SOUTH AMBOY – During his opening comments at the South Amboy council meeting last week, Mayor Fred Henry announced the city’s plans to tear down the Jersey Central Power and Lighting building in South Amboy.

The building has been unused for sometime and is contaminated with asbestos, which made the decision for Jersey Central easier to make. The company will still have small power stations on the property, but the main building will be torn down over the next 14 months.

“The contractors at Jersey Central are planning to take down their building, and it should take up to 14 months to complete, so if you see anything going on down there that’s what it is,” Mayor Henry said. “As of right now, there are no immediate plans for anything else to go in that location.”

Resident Eileen Ryan stood in front of the council and asked a number of questions about the project, ranging from the environmental issues to the future plans of the property. She first wanted to know if the area was strictly industrial and if the land could potentially become condos or other housing options.

“Now that this building is coming down, are we going to entertain the idea of purchasing that land from them to build something else?” Ryan said. “I’m just asking whether or not we are financially able to purchase that land for something better.”

Ryan also wondered if the city of South Amboy would be interested in buying the property from Jersey Central once the building was torn down. Business Administrator Camille Tooker explained that there were a lot of things that could affect a future purchase, and there was no way to tell what would happen with the property.

“It’s not just the plant on that location, there are also ‘peakers’ and other generators that are being used from that location,” Tooker said. “It also has environmental issues and we don’t know exactly the level of contamination to the building or ground is. Right now it doesn’t make a good residential area, but they still have to come and work it out.”

The current property owned by Jersey Central currently has the main building that will be torn down plus five other generators and ‘peakers’ that are used for extra power during the warm, summer days. The generators and small buildings will remain on the property after the main building is torn down as the area still belongs to the company.

Resident Nancy McLaughlin was more concerned about the environmental aspect of the project, wondering how such a large building would be kept sealed off during demolition. Council president Joseph Connors explained the process to McLaughlin and ensured the air would remain clean during the tear down.

“Anytime you do a large job like this, the Department of Labor has someone monitor the process by law,” Connors said. “They will encapsulate the entire building during clean-up and the process will protect the area surrounding their property. It’s an EPA law that they have to follow to keep everything clean.”

Resident Vince Mackiel, who has constantly pushed the environmental issue on the council in an attempt to clean up the city of South Amboy, was pleased with the decision to tear down the building and pointed out all the positives that will come out of the demolition.

“I just want to point out that the city is not spending one cent on this project, while other cities usually have to contribute to the clean up,” Mackiel said. “This project is going to benefit the city, including developing 150 new jobs, and I hope this is a step toward making South Amboy safer to live in.”

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