red bank what's going on herered bank community garden 030520The Red Bank community garden, which the borough abruptly shut down last August over concern about possible soil contamination, is on the agenda for Wednesday night’s council meeting.

What’s Going On Here? Read on.

red bank community garden soil testing sitesA map showing the properties where the DEP hopes to do soil testing, with owner permission. (Top photo by John T. Ward; DEP map. Click to enlarge.)

Up for consideration at the governing body’s semimonthly meeting is a resolution enabling the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to collect soil samples on borough properties hundreds of feet beyond the Marion Street garden.

The measure authorizes the DEP to sample grass planting strips in front of homes, which are in the public right-of-way, as well as nearby Eastside Park. It also clears the DEP to solicit permission, with the borough’s help, from property owners to take soil borings from their lots.

“Because of the scope and magnitude of what’s possible with something like this, they take the lead on this,” Business Administrator Ziad Shehady said of the DEP at last Wednesday’s council workshop session.

As shown on the map above, the area of interest comprises 56 private properties, including the entire block between McLaren Marion Street and John Street. The north side of Marion Street, the south side of John Street and some homes on Harrison Avenue and Worthley Street also are included.

Here’s the rationale for the properties included, as described to redbankgreen via email by Nicole Budzek, of the DEP’s  Bureau of Site Management:

The NJDEP is trying to delineate the contamination associated with the historic fill. We are also looking for clean zones and want to sample areas outside of the contamination to get background levels. We do not know how large the contamination plume is going to be, therefore when requesting access to rights-of-ways with the township we are requesting access to all of the properties on Marion and John Street between Harrison Avenue and Worthley Street as a precaution. We are not anticipating sampling all of these properties. During past experiences getting access to the rights-of-ways with townships can sometimes be a long process, so we would rather request access to more properties than less to avoid needing to go through the process of requesting access with the township a second time.

The August 9 garden shutdown was prompted by Paulo Rodriguez-Heyman, who who lives across the street from the garden and is the founder and president of Renova Environmental Services, a site remediation firm based in Ocean Township. He had provided the borough with results of testing showing elevated lead readings in the garden’s soil.

In September, a four-page report by CME Associates, the borough’s consulting engineer, said that one of 17 core samples taken at the community garden contained lead at a concentration above a remediation standard used by the NJDEP.

That reading, however, came from a depth of more than two feet below the ground surface.

More recently, the borough sought permission from property owners to take soil borings from their lots, but some residents don’t want testing “for whatever reasons, legal or otherwise,” Shehady said at the workshop session.

Councilman Ed Zipprich noted that the soil in a planting strip “is not always the natural fill or dirt that existed” before roadwork was done.

“My concern is you either come up with a false negative or a false positive because that soil was brought in from a different location,” he said.

Shehady said he would discuss that concern with the DEP.

“I’m sure they’ve got some practices to account for that,” he said.

Here’s the full agenda.