Recycland becomes Metuchen Sportsplex: Conditional Use Variance Approved

MetucheSportsplexCover Page Signage.jpegAt tonight's Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, Recycland, developers of the proposed indoor sports complex to be constructed in the abandoned warehouse adjacent to Vidas Park, received approval for a conditional use variance. (Click here for previous articles on the Recycland project.)
In a vote of six in favor, one opposed, the board agreed to accept the proposal with two major conditions:  One, that Brownfield remediation work plans be completed and approved by the NJ State Department of Environmental Protection and two, that a public roadway, to be constructed by the developer, completely connect Durham to Middlesex Avenues within 18 months after project completion or be granted an extension from completion at that time, by the board, due to approved circumstances surrounding development of the remainder of the property.
Board member Catherine McCartin, a chemist and mother of young children, eloquently summarized her decision by stating that without jurisdiction over NJDEP findings and with relative surety that the DEP has the safety and protection of our community as its primary goal, and with the choice of either an indoor sports facility or re-activated warehouse occupying the site, she would vote to approve use.  Suzanne Andrews, the one dissenting vote, had lingering concerns not only regarding environmental issues but for the impact of additional traffic on the surrounding roadways. Board members Daniel Spiegel and Patricia Lagay were absent.
Four residents were present to publicly state, for the record, that they were against approval due to the undetermined environmental conditions and traffic impact.  The NJDEP caseworker assigned to this project had been invited to testify before the board but declined attendance as complete review of the work plan has not been finalized.   
A variety of building approvals will be needed before construction begins.


Joe, you do realize they're going to re-use that rusty scary building.

I am personally very excited to see this sports complex in the works. As to the NIMBY comment- oh do I agree! Everybody wants a nice sports complex but nobody wants it in their backyard! Well, I live in Central Square Park, so this literally is in my backyard... and I love it. I'd rather have a sports complex on top of some sequestered asbestos instead of some rusty, scary looking building that makes the town look poor and run down (just like those condemned houses near the blockbuster).

Many thanks to Stuart for putting up with the bureaucracy in order to get this started. Oh, and to the person criticizing Stuart for protesting his property taxes "during good times"... what is wrong with you? If the town asked me to pay more taxes than I should based on the value of my property, I would do the same thing. You clearly are not interested in fairness; you just want everybody to pay as much as they possibly can so that you can get as many services as you desire without dipping into your own wallet. Feel free to overpay your taxes, but don't expect anybody in their right minds to do the same.


Keep up the good work, I hope it all works out for your plan and look forward to your facility.

You're absolutely right and I apologize. I am trying my best to NOT offend anyone. My reference to NIMBYs was not a reference to Metuchen residents or any of the citizens who objected to an asbestos capped landfill. It was a reference to the social costs and risks to society - not to the developer or land owner - of excavating asbestos and then hauling it on public roads to a new landfill, as opposed to taking it in its non-friable, non-soluble form and burying it in-situ.

I want to correct a factual misstatement. The Borough was to get someone from DEP to testify. The DEP's determination was not about the land use issue, but about the remediation protocol, which regardless of use will still have to be approved by them.

Please ask the Council, although I know they are on top of it.

Environmental Documents available on Middlesex County Clerk records site:

Book 5176, Page 830 – DEP Deed Restriction for Vidas Park. States that 4 of the 5 acres contain the soil capped asbestos landfill. Includes 1995 plan for entire Oakite site.

Book 5468 page 657 – DEP Deed Restriction for Middlesex County Trailhead Park. States that .72 acres of the 2.59 total contain a capped asbestos landfill similar to that under Vidas Park.

Book 5977 Page 169. This document from August 2008 relates to the Oakley Products site at 50 Hampton Street, adjacent to Vidas Park. This is an "open and active" remediation site.

"If the DEP says it's OK"...

Well our zoning board approved it without ANY feedback from the DEP. The applicant said he would get someone from DEP to come to testify however the DEP representative said there is NOT enough information on file to make a determination. So what did we do? We approved it. Not wise.

"Both parties have appointed people from superfund site capital of the world to head epa"

Maybe they are the best to ignore the problem since they have so much experience doing just that?

Vidas is an open field and any toxic fumes seeping out dissipate into the air. Black sludge is another matter, though. The EPA documents for Vidas state that someone is suppposed to be inspecting the field. Perhaps we should be asking the council who is doing those inspections, how often, and whether any written record is made of those inspections. If you want to read the EPA deed restriction on the Vidas property, you can get it online from the County Clerk.

It doesn't strike you as strange that both parties have appointed people from the superfund site capital of the world to head the EPA? I guess they feel they have the most experience dealing with toxic waste.

Proved my point, paranoid.

Who do you trust? EPA no good, DEP no good. Obama and Obama appointee no good.

Apparently, unless things go exactly the way you determine, its wrong.

Well I have yet to go to the new WalMart. And I don't trust the DEP or the EPA. Who can forget Christie Whitman raising acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water? Gold for the bottled water industry. And now Obama has put another refugee from Superfundland to head the EPA. We're leaving behind a pile of debt and toxic waste for future generations to deal with. Heckuva job, boomies.

Oh I think they will be there

Just like all the folks who whined about WalMart and now go there

Wait until they see how nice it is...

He isn't investing in the town, he is investing in his business, which is exactly what he should be doing. He posted here with his name but I guess those that call names choose not to do so. I don't think he has to worry about those folks since they would never go to his establishment anyway.

You don't think its safe, don't let your kids go there. Me, my kids will be there in the winter getting ready for the next season.

If the DEP says its ok, that is enough for me.

Oh, and one more thing, make sure your business sells hot dogs. My kid likes those. And maybe pizza too for the parents that hang out there waiting for their kids. Good pizza. With meat or something else that used to be breathing.

Whats horrible is all the people implying that the developer doesnt care if kids get sick and is only out to make a quick buck.

Go ahead, keep on scaring people, plenty of paranoid folks in town who buy right into that sort of stuff.

What a horrid comment. Im all for this development, but do it the RIGHT WAY - its got to be safe. A kid doesnt need to lick the ground to suffer effects of envtl contamination. And the peanut comment is just totally uncalled for.

Right, you are so full of yourself, get over it.

You'll never be satisfied whatever he does. Tell your kid not to lick the ground and he'll be fine. And stay away from my kids peanut butter and jelly sandwichs too...

We may be insane but you're unenlightened. Yes, he wants to invest in our town after spending 10 years doing everything he could to invest LESS in Metuchen. Why is it so easy for you to ignore that fact? He's doing the LEAST necessary to provide for a clean up of the site which given the target market for this facility should give you pause. If Mr. Schooler wants the support of the entire community, he should remove the contaminants and the surrounding soil and be done with it. You see him investing in Metuchen, others see him taking environmental short cuts to line his own pockets. I suppose the unenlightened are easily fooled.

Someone wants to invest in our town and all you wingnuts can do is try to stop them? And then you whine about your taxes going up?

You people are insane

Wait - BLACK GOO???
Any recent pictures of that? I would think that this whole mess would be shut down if someone could come up with a recent pic of that.

Oh yes Mr. Schooler we've met. Your arrogance shines through here in your posts loud and clear. Good first step at welcoming people into your facility by calling them UNENLIGHTENED. For us UNENLIGHTENED that's a big word for stupid or dumb. "Hey Dumb Metuchen, please come spend your money at my facility". Good one, fool. It is my hope that the local sports community shuns you and you lose a bunch of money.

Also your claims about tax appeals, I like how you twist the facts. You didn't sue the town during hard times, you sued the town during good times. You wanted to pay as little as possible and not do your fair share for the town and now wonder why people aren't your biggest fan? Also you didn't win any appeal, you settled it. There's a big difference and you should tell the truth.

Asbestos isn't the issue.The black goo that bubbles up every so often is.

I have to tell you it makes me uncomfortable- in fact what the DEP has done in recent history even allowing residential building on capped areas -scares me big time- you would never catch me there. I hope for Metuchen's sake years from now we don't realize that we made a BIG mistake.

Stuart, You're not going to make any friends calling people unenlightened NIMBYs. You want Metuchen people to patronize your facility, right? While I agree the asbestos at Vidas was buried and capped in accordance with NJDEP guidelines before you bought the property, I can't agree that it was "proper." The DEP makes rules that makes industry happy, but their rules are not necessarily the best for the environment. Industry has better lobbyists than regular citizens do. Whenever this kind of stuff can be removed and taken to a less populated area, it should be. A few feet of soil isn't much of a cap. And how can we know that VOCs from the rest of your site or from the Oakley site have not migrated? Wasn't the Oakley site's DEP case file recently reopened?

For what it's worth on our end, we thought the reporting on this matter was spectacular. Let me add our thanks.

I am afraid your facts are not exactly accurate. Our concept plans to develop a sportsplex here preceded the "local guy" contacting us by OVER A YEAR. Yes, it's true we couldn't make a deal with the local developer, but the fact is that he rejected the exact same economic terms that we offered the proposed sportsplex operator. He just had a more "conservative" view of the market than other operators. With respect to the Vidas deal, we haven't owned the property for 10 years and never reneged on a deal there. Six or seven years ago we reiterateda number of times that we wanted the city to take the property and operate a park. Please feel free to call me directly. With respect to the asbestos clean-up, there are two FACTS in evidence. Asbestos was properly buried and capped before we bought the property. This is an accepted remedy not because it is cheaper, but for unenlightened NIMBYs, it is the safest remedy for non-friable asbestos. The less it's loaded, unloaded and trucked around, the better.

Presumably you've met the man (me). I am sorry you didn't identify yourself. We could talk. Why didn't you mention that those suits were property tax appeals? For nine years, the property had no value because the land value was less than the cost to clean it up. Still, we had to pay property taxes, so we appealed the amount. In the current economic climate, I am sure that many Metuchen residents are appealing their property taxes. When the Borough condemned the ballfields and acquired them by eminent domain, I believe that we also appealed the valuation. We won that appeal.

We are aware of no illnesses at Oakite and one of their employees who has been on site continuously since the '60's works for us now. Please enlighten me.

Me, too. I know of no reason we shouldn't see this through to a timely opening.

Great job Teri on reporting the good news.

Also saw the pedestrian bridge over router 1 was delivered and is being installed. Nice to see the greenway up and running and the Metuchen Sportsplex going too.

And all you naysayers can just stay home if it bothers you that much...

I agree!!! Great job Teri "Lois Lane" Coleman!!!

She is a stand out journalist! Good job, Teri!

I agree, Steve. Good job, Teri!

My congratulations to Teri C. for sitting through 4 hearings and listening to 16 hours of testimony and questions. That's dedication to your Boro.

The ongoing testing is because of the VOC's, not the absestos.


Have you considered the costs to remediate a site and have ongoing NJDEP testing for 10 years? then the NJ permitting process for land development?

I agree that it takes determination to put up with all of the red tape that is required to build or in this case Redevelop this site.

They said the previous landowner buried the asbestos at Vidas, which came from the former Oakite factory bulding that was torn down, with the approval of the NJ DEP. Vidas is considered a capped landfill. Thanks, Trenton!

At Vidas the asbestos was already in the ground and capped. In this building it is on the walls and being removed and buried in the ground. Cheapest! Not safest!

He took the cheapest cleanup alternative? You mean just like what happened to the land not 100 yards away from his facility?

Lifting the idea?

They have been doing this type of development in places other than Metuchen and have been pretty succesful. And asbestos is only dangerous in the air, not if buried. Works for me.

Its a big challenge, glad we have someone willing to give it a go.

Yeah, we do praise him. And wish him luck.

Praise him?? Praise him for lifting the sportsplex idea from the local developer after they couldn't make a deal to sell to the local guy. Praise him for trying to reneg on the land deal for Vidas park 10 years ago. Praise him for taking the cheapest cleanup alternative and burying asbestos in the ground instead of removing it. Praise him??

Real guts? You've obviously never met the man. Are you aware he has sued the Borough 4 times? Let's hold off on the praise.

Let's think a little positive here. The Brownfield will be capped and tested. The new business will be a benefit to taxes and residents direclty. The real issue is the economy. I admire the person taking this on. The guy has got real guts. Praise him.

Maybe they should have put down the butts and picked up an apple....

Woo Hoo!!
Hoping nobody dies of cancer from the pollutants under the building like the workers at Oakite did.

Sounds good to me. That area really needs an indoor facility. The park that the town runs is a waste of space as the field just won't drain, the little league doesn't even want to use the nice looking field there, the soccer area is a mess if it rains within a week of the games.

Good show, if you can't use the area outside, I think its a good idea to use indoor areas.

Woo Hoo!!

Keeping my fingers crossed this gets built.

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Recent Comments

  • Anonymous: Joe, you do realize they're going to re-use that rusty read more
  • Joe R.: I am personally very excited to see this sports complex read more
  • Anonymous: Stuart, Keep up the good work, I hope it all read more
  • stuartdschooler: You're absolutely right and I apologize. I am trying my read more
  • stuartdschooler: I want to correct a factual misstatement. The Borough was read more
  • stuartdschooler: Please ask the Council, although I know they are on read more
  • Anonymous: Environmental Documents available on Middlesex County Clerk records site: read more
  • Anonymous: "If the DEP says it's OK"... Well our zoning board read more
  • Anonymous: "Both parties have appointed people from superfund site capital of read more
  • Anonymous: Vidas is an open field and any toxic fumes seeping read more

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