To Mayor and Council,
I’m not going to yell at you that you are all idiots. That’s not my style and it isn’t true. From what I can tell, only two of you are, and the other three are being mislead with the use of filtered facts. I hold the hope that you three will soon see that you are looking at the hind quarters of the lead dog, and he isn’t letting you see that you are only getting scraps of information.
Gail, I had high hopes that you would be a welcome change to the former council that closed out the public from the discussion, and only asked questions amongst themselves as if they had all the answers. Last meeting, you tried to discredit my statements during the first round of public comment, by reading a memo I wrote to the planning board. That memo was to be used as my opinion IF I was not available to attend the October planning board meeting. I was able to attend and hear the valued opinions of all members in attendance, thus that memo means nothing and is not part of the public record. Your assertion that I disagreed with myself is a lame attempt at grasping at something to counteract what you know is true–that rebuilding in a known flood zone is a stupid idea.
Mr. Thibault, you are a disaster! The agenda from November 5, 2012 had nothing on it about the Planning Board response. At the beginning of the meeting you added it as a discussion item, and hey look, you had a draft response all prepared with enough copies for everyone! This topic was purposely left off the agenda so that people wouldn’t show up and disagree with you. Sounds to me like you are violating the Sunshine law AGAIN!
I filed an OPRA request to get my copy last week. (It’s interesting that the first public comment last night was after your discussion of the planning board response to, I assume, preclude any disagreement.” Smooth…)
Here are my comments anyway: Your response says that the Borough Hall ONLY saw 3 or 4 inches (of water) at the front of the building, and 30 inches at the rear; and that the “current Borough Hall site has not experienced flooding in the past…but rather has seen only minor occurrences of water levels of one or two inches at the FAR rear of the property.” Really? I found these pictures from 1934. Maybe you should double check your factual evidence. And, would you want regular invasions of 3-4 inches of water in your house?
You wrote a blog on the Patch as if you hold all the answers. Are you speaking for the ENTIRE council? You are speaking for them, “Council discussed…,” “Council made a reasoned, sound decision…” Did they sign off on all that you said? I’ll go out on a limb…they didn’t, and that Blog is your opinion. It should come with a disclaimer, “The following “facts” are my opinion and I have left out certain pieces of information to make myself and my decisions look like the right way to go.”
On this Blog of filtered information you state that the Lucas Property is polluted with dangerous chemicals. The site is listed by the NJDEP as a contaminated site and it is “…heavily tainted by hazardous and cancer causing chemicals.” True – well sort of. Thank you for the links to the Agency for Toxic Substances within your Blog. The DEP also lists just about every gas station and service station in Hightstown. Hmmm, it’s interesting that the Borough Hall site used to be an Esso gas station.
Of the three chemicals you list, benzene, ethylbenzene, and toluene, only benzene can cause cancer. Something I don’t take lightly as I had the cancer that it specifically lists. However, within the other information by the Toxic Substance website and the DEP website are these interesting facts that you seem to not have had room for in your Blog.
1. The chemicals are in the ground water and would only affect the occupants of the Lucas building if you drilled a well.
2. The chemicals are in the Pennsauken aquifer. Hightstown does not draw water from this aquifer. We draw somewhat from the Englishtown Aquifer, but largely from the Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer.
3. All three are by products of gasoline, oil, and industrial processes.
Additionally during the course of the meeting, council discussed possible locations of temporary trailers for the Borough Hall personnel. One of the thoughts was vacant land formerly owned by Agway on Maxwell Avenue. Considering that the old Agway land is also listed on the DEP Contaminated Sites list, I find it odd that this site would be considered for temporary offices, for three years mind you.
So, if it is a deciding factor against a property is having some chemicals in the soil that are a result of gasoline and oil, then it should ALSO be a deciding factor to not build the borough Hall in the location of an old Esso station! I would BET they were less careful about spilling gas and oil on the ground back then.
I also reminded the council last night that in the minutes they approved on for an August 23 open session meeting, there is a paragraph under discussions quoting our Borough Engineer. “The Borough Engineer noted that we will always be at risk for flooding at this location…,” referring to the existing Borough Hall location. Why spend $3.7 million dollars to rebuild in a place that we know will flood again?
Council, stop following, and start using your heads. Rebuilding in a flood zone over an old gas station is the wrong path!
214 Stockton Street
Editor’s note: the above is a revised version of a letter Rick Pratt read during the public comment portion of Monday night’s Hightstown Borough Council meeting.