Friday, January 16, 2009

My notes/random thoughts from Monmouth Park's presentation in Oceanport

From what I'm reading about the Steve Lonegan Organizational meeting in Freehold, I missed a great opportunity to mingle with The Man. Hopefully Mr. Lonegan will continue his tour of the state of NJ and I'll have more chances to chat with him again. This aside....

I'm no reporter but here are my notes from Oceanport's Thursday night meeting at borough hall where Monmouth Park made their presentation on their plan to stop polluting Branchport Creek.

They are proposing a "2 stage" build-up to correct the problem.

Stage 1 would be the re-construction of the infield lagoon as a basin that would collect storm water runoff from the parking area which they claim is about 60 acres. This seems to have NOTHING to do with the poo-lution problem since there is no poo-lution in the parking lot as far as I can tell. It seems that if anything, this simply addresses a flooding concern for the area since there is 60 acres of flat asphalt where there used to be trees. Anyhow, the "infield lagoon" basin would be a "bio-filter" which was the word of the night. They described this as a "vegetated swale". Incidentally, this infield pond is considered "state open waters"/"fringe wet-lands" which is why a permit from the DEP is needed for the re-construction. Essentially, "stage 1" seems to do little to nothing to address the poo-lution problem - but it is an expensive and big project according to Monmouth Park. Oddly enough, it seems Oceanport's mayor is looking for a state grant, probably from the DEP, to pay for the work to be done by Monmouth Park, an estimated $8.8 million. Good luck taxpayers. The current pond is 12-18" deep, I believe the depth of this pond would remain about the same at the end of construction.

Stage 2 seems to begin to address the real problem by addressing discharge from the "horse operation area". Monmouth Park claims that they can collect "every drop" of storm water that falls on this area. They estimate 13 acres of stable rooftops which would be collected and pumped directly into Branchport Creek without ever coming in contact with the ground and the possibility of being "contaminated" by the poo-lution. Existing ground inlets would be sealed or removed and the existing pipes would be flushed (into the creek) and cleaned during the construction. Which reminds me, construction, of course, would HAVE to be halted when the horses are in the stables as horses are skittish animals and might be frightened by the sounds and activity - good to hear the Monmouth Park cares more about the horses than the public water ways they have been polluting, illegally, for the past several years. How about not bringing the horses in until construction is completed? But I digress. Also in this stage, a new ground water collection system would be installed which would collect all of the ground water and pump that water into another dry basin to be positioned not far from Doreen Drive (where  the mayor lives) in Oceanport. This basin has the capacity to hold 10 million gallons of rain water - which they claim is all of the water (7"s) that would fall during a "25 year storm" and it would take about 8 days to pump ALL of this water out to Long Branch Sewage Authority (LBSA) or Two Rivers Sewerage Authority (TRSA). The agreement MP has with LBSA is to handle 500K gallons of poo-lluted water every day - another 800K (not 600K as I originally wrote) gallons of poo-luted water would head to TRSA in Monmouth Beach. That is OVER 1 MILLION gallons of poo-luted water - it seems this is "daily" expectations with any excess being stored in the "dry" basin, which is supposed to be dry all of the time. They also claim that the dry basin would have no odor and not be a breeding ground for mosquito's. We'll see. The "dry" basin would be about 6 feet deep.

Some additional notes are that the agreement with LBSA is not finalized, yet as additional permits are still needed and a permanent connection still needs to be made between the track and LBSA - which seems to require some work along State Rt 36/Joline Ave - another tax payer funded construction project - it wasn't clear if this cost was included in the $8.8 million projection. Bids will go out for the LBSA work once the permits are finalized. Also, since the pipe from MP to LBSA needs to cross the river, they claim that the pipe will be constructed below the river - as in below the bedrock/sediment/water/etc - much like a tunnel under a river. A pump station would force the water through and gravity would feed the LB side.

All of this work is apparently going to be done over a 4 year period, which means that for, AT LEAST, another 4 years, the river will continue to be polluted by Monmouth Park. It seems that this project is an admission of guilt for their role in polluting the Creek in the first place so it seems that MP SHOULD finally pay up on those two fines that the DEP has issued for past pollution. I believe the total cost in fines is about $50K - again - I suppose the fines would be paid via tax payer money anyhow, so maybe they shouldn't pay after all, talk about a bad situation.

In "good news" - MP enthusiastically says that Oceanport's "Water Watch" committee "absolutely" will have access to the property at all times during the construction project to ensure things are moving along (except of course when they are not moving so as not to disrupt the horses, which was stated several times by a Mr. John Duffy(?) of MP/NJSEA)

Honestly, I'm not yet convinced that this "plan" is anything more than a dog and pony show, pun intended. Who knows if MP/NJSEA will still exist in 4 (or is 5 - the years seems to stack up as their presentation went on) years based on the casino industry and horsemen's association action as well as MP's constant claims of losses (losing tax dollars? hrm - where's that Chris Christie!?).

Don't get me wrong, it all sounds nice, and I have to admit, Oceanport Mayor Mike Mahon was at least prepared with many good questions for MP - but no one asked the obvious questions (and as I said, it seems Mahon is more than willing to use taxpayer money to fund MP/NJSEA's screw up) which are:
1) How the hell to you generate so much poo-luted water?
2) Have they ever seen how NYC handles horse poo? I mean, there are A LOT of horses in NYC - between Central Park, the Carriage rides around the city and the NYPD mounted police - and yet as far as I know - Central Park's lakes aren't poo-luted - the NYC storm drains aren't poo-luted or dumping poo-lution into the East/Hudson Rivers. To the best of my knowledge, NYC uses the advanced technology of a shovel and a wheel barrel, go figure. The carriages all have little "dump buckets" because I don't know what they are really called, hanging below the horse to catch the poo. Really seems like simple solutions work here.
3) Why isn't every horse owner facing this problem? I drive down 547 from I195 towards Lakewood nearly every weekend and I see plenty of horse farms, with plenty of horses, on land near houses that I'm sure have well water for drinking - and again - the best of my knowledge - these people aren't drinking poo-luted water and their land isn't poo-luted - and for that matter rivers/streams that run through the area are also not poo-luted. What is Monmouth Park doing wrong that they generation over 1 MILLION gallons of poo-lution, daily?
4) Why should tax payers, either in Oceanport, or across the state, or if/when Mahon goes to Pallone/Holt then across the nation, be forced to pay for the construction project on private property (which I guess is only kind of private since it's state owned, but then it's not "public" since I can't go take a stroll through the park with my puppy). It's also worth noting that no one from Frank Pallone's office or Rush Holt's office seemed to be in attendance for the presentation. I assume they either don't care (Frank Pallone never really cares, unless the situation involves India) and Holt is too busy worrying about Utah to concern himself with his home state of NJ, which he was elected to represent. Useless.

I don't have answers - I want the poo-lution to stop. I want the river to be cleaned up. I want MP to stay in business since it seems to bring money and people into the area. I don't want taxpayers to pay for the cleanup. I don't want DEP to trust this careless organization with a permit to do construction in the area. I don't want LBSA (my tax money) to waste resources on MP.

I wonder what my pal, THEEEEEEEEEE Steve Lonegan would do or say about this, and/or the DEP in general? It seems that Steve will be hosting another Q&A forum in the area in the near future - I do hope to have a chance to attend and ask.

So there is my update on where things stand. No change - the river is still poo-luted (and frozen) based on my latest observation.  [hippy_environmentalist_dude_talk]IF THE RIVER WASN'T POO-LUTED, MAN, THE MANHADEN WOULDN'T BE DEAD, MAN AND THEN THOSE CUTE LIL' DOLPHINS WOULD HAVE FOOD MAN, AND THOSE DOLPHINS WOULD BE ALIVE, MAN![/hippy_environmentalist_dude_talk] Stupid Dolphins... I'd love to grill them - or we can allow the local High School science club to disect it! So many good uses, instead it seems they might be gone, as in dead. What a waste.

1 comment:

Joseph Irace said...


I disagree with your comments regarding the Monmouth Park meeting in Oceanport.

It seems that the State is FINALLY doing something to correct a problem that has been going on for too many years. Yes it's a lot of money, but it is something that needs to be accomplished. Our residents have been seeking solutions and are finally receiving answers.

The new administration in Oceanport (of which I am a part of)has been working closely with, and staying on top of the racetrack to make sure they get their house in order. Oceanport taxpayers will not and should not be paying for this remediation, but rather the New Jersey Sports & Expostion Authority, as an agency of the State, will be borrowing the money.

We fully support Monmouth Park and hope to help it remain viable as a racetrack for many years to come.

What aspects of the plan do you think won't work or what are the cheaper alternatives?

I would love to present them to the Mayor, Monmouth Park and the residents of Oceanport should they help alleviate the problem.

Joseph Irace
Councilman Borough of Oceanport