red bank what's going on hereThirteen months after it was abruptly closed over contamination concerns, Red Bank’s only community garden heads into autumn with a crop of periodically mown grass.

But what happened to the neighborhood soil testing that was supposed to be conducted? And will the garden reopen?

redbankgreen’s What’s Going On Here? has an update.

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

According to borough Business Administrator Ziad Shehady, “there’s really nothing new to report.”

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection “contracted with a company (H2M Associates) to start the bidding process to hire a company to do the soil investigation” of the site and properties up to several hundred feet away, Shehady said via email. “Then the pandemic hit and they had to delay.

“They eventually came out May 22 for a site visit to meet with several contractors on site,” he said. “I don’t believe they have yet awarded the contract – but they are going to do the testing around Marion Street and John Street. The process is moving along but slowly.”

DEP spokesman Larry  Hajna confirmed to redbankgreen on Thursday that “a contract has not been signed at this point but is being worked on.”

The August, 2019 shutdown of the seven-year-old garden was prompted by Paulo Rodriguez-Heyman, the founder and president of Renova Environmental Services, a site remediation firm based in Ocean Township.

Rodriguez-Heyman, who lives across the street from the garden, provided the borough with results of testing showing elevated lead readings in the garden’s soil.

That prompted the borough to immediately close the facility and advise gardeners not to consume any produce grown in it.

As shown on the map above, the area of interest comprises 56 private properties, including the entire block between 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.

And “until the testing and environmental issues are sorted out, there’s no new info on when the garden might restart,” Shehady said.