The 12th District Legislators are pleased to see progress in the resolution of the on-going pollution problem at Branchport Creek.
A meeting was held Monday night at Oceanport Borough Hall at which the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority discussed with the public its new plan to solve the run-off problem caused by Branchport Creek’s close proximity to Monmouth Park Racetrack. Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande were in attendance.
“For the past two years,” said O’Scanlon, who has been working towards a solution since the problem was first recognized, “I, along with Senator Beck and Assemblywoman Casagrande, have been working very hard to find a feasible solution to this pollution problem. We have been working with the residents and the Borough of Oceanport, the people at Monmouth Park and the Two Rivers Water Reclamation Authority to stop the pollution at Branchport Creek that has been making that water unsafe for the past several years. I am hopeful that we’ve finally found a solution.”
The agreement that has been reached, and that was presented at Monday night’s meeting, includes having Oceanport acting as a conduit to borrow up to $22 million for upgrades from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, which will be repaid by the NJSEA on behalf of Oceanport Borough. The upgrades will entail a retention basin and pumping station, which will allow Monmouth Park to control the flow rate to the Two Rivers Water Reclamation Authority, and prevent run-off to Branchport Creek.
The four-year plan is expected to be complete by 2013, and although the residents are frustrated by this long process, steps have already begun to be taken. For instance, the flow of waste to the TRWRA has already been doubled for this racing season.
“Because of the planned retention basin and pumping station,” said Casagrande, “the former plan to hook up to the Long Branch Sewage Authority is no longer needed. Since the rate will be controlled, the LBSA doesn’t need to be involved. This has been a long road, with signs going up every year warning of the waste found in Branchport Creek. It will be a real success when we see those signs removed once and for all.”
“Racing is an important industry in New Jersey,” said Beck, “but not more important than the safety of our environment. We are fortunate to live in an area so close to so many bodies of water, and it is our responsibility to make sure that our industries and environment can exist together. It’s been a long road, and we still have a long way to go. The people of Oceanport have been so patient during this process. It’s nice to see movement forward.”