Edition of Nov. 2, 2000

Thanks for the danger
To the editor:
   Sunday, Oct. 29, I noticed a new sign at the Route 31 end of my street (Ingleside Avenue, Hopewell Township) – "No Left Turn."
   This was a surprise to me and, I am sure, to other Ingleside residents. This is quite a big change for people who have been used to being able to turn left to get to the Pennington Market/Shopping Center area, restaurants, etc. I am surprised that no one thought it wise to alert the residents of Ingleside to this change before or even immediately after it was made.
   I also have a question for those who decided on the "No Left Turn" rule – how should I and other residents now go north on Route 31? Go all the way through Pennington Borough to the traffic light on West Delaware Avenue? Use the Pennington Circle? Drive to Scotch Road and use Pennington-Titusville Road to Route 31? Or just add unneeded traffic to narrow Search Avenue?
   I do not fully understand how Dublin Road can be closed because of a possible increase in traffic but residents of Ingleside Avenue will have to deal with this same increased traffic just to get to the Pennington Market area.
   Who is making these decisions? Why should my neighbors and I now have to travel farther on busier roads just to go north on Route 31? Thank you to those who have made this decision – you have made our driving time much more dangerous.
Andrea Merrick, Hopewell Township
Cerenzio and Panaro are responsible
To the editor:
   In last week’s Guest Opinion, former Sewer Advisory Committee (SAC) chairman Peggy Snyder defends the work of this committee and the Phase I report written by Cerenzio and Panaro. I am a member of the SAC and a resident of the Tree Streets neighborhood. I attended all but one SAC meeting, and agree fully with Ms. Snyder’s statements regarding the intent of the Phase I report, the process employed in selecting Cerenzio and Panaro as the engineering firm to produce this report, and the attempts of the SAC to include the public in all of its doings.
   However, my views differ from Ms. Snyder’s when we consider the content of the Phase I report. In her Guest Opinion, she states, "SAC member Randee Tengi has criticized the report with the assertion that the Tree Streets neighborhood has been inaccurately designated as consisting of 76 homes of varying ages rather than 40 older homes." For clarification, I first discovered this error when I received a draft of the Phase I report in the Spring, and I promptly reported it, along with some other concerns, to Tom Varro of Cerenzio and Panaro (in fact, I was the first SAC member to give him any feedback on the draft). My criticism is correct, and Cerenzio and Panaro had ample opportunity to fix it before public presentation of the report in September.
   To further clarify, my recent statement concerning the Tree Streets lot count is noted in a letter written by myself and 6 other Tree Streets residents as part of our official comments on the Phase I report, made during the public comment period designated by the Hopewell Township Committee. As a resident of this neighborhood, I am entitled to the same rights as every other resident to state my problems and concerns with Cerenzio and Panaro’s report regardless of whether or not I am a member of the committee that recommended they be hired.
   Ms. Snyder goes on to say that if "this premise is accepted, by doubling the documented failure rate to adjust for this (the lot count) – to 13 percent – the Tree Streets still have a 20-year failure rate which is considerably less than the most severe neighborhoods." While this statement is indeed true, the fact that Cerenzio and Panaro made a significant error is no less important, and should not be overlooked, permitted, or excused. Errors in the report must be ferreted out and corrected before any conclusions can be drawn from it.
   Ms. Snyder notes that the residents of the Tree Streets have been "highly organized and very vocal," further stating "that the extent of problems does not necessarily correlate with the intensity of citizen outcry." Residents of my neighborhood believe that the documented rate of failure does not necessarily correlate to the extent of problems in a given neighborhood.
   We were one of the first neighborhoods in Hopewell Township to approach the Township Committee, over three years ago, requesting assistance in dealing with our septic problems, and have been in the Township’s 208 (Wastewater Management Plan) for approaching 20 years now. In fact, the 208 plan states that homes in this neighborhood "have experienced septic system malfunctions as documented by the Hopewell Township Health Department. Because the lot sizes on these particular streets are less than 1 acre and problems have arisen, inclusion of this neighborhood in a designated sewer service area can provide a reasonable solution to potential problems in this area."
   Since the publication of the Phase I report, another septic system in the Tree Streets has been replaced, raising the failure rate to 15 percent – a far cry from the 6.6 percent rate reported by Cerenzio and Panaro. Given the extremely small sample size, just one more septic system failure in the Tree Streets raises our failure rate to 17.5 percent – much, much nearer to the 20 percent over 20 year cutoff recommended by Cerenzio and Panaro.
   An intent of the Phase I report is that it be used as a planning tool, therefore trends as well as past failure rates should be determined. It is clear that in my neighborhood, as well as others, the trend is one of increasing rates of failure – nearing 100 percent on home sales. Missing the seemingly arbitrary "20 percent over 20 year" rule of thumb cutoff does not take developing trends into consideration, and omits from future planning areas that will clearly approach or cross this magic threshold shortly.
   I agree with Ms. Snyder that the Phase I report is a document that is necessary before the Township can move forward on finding solutions for the various neighborhoods with septic system problems. I also expect that the content pertaining to all studied neighborhoods be accurate and complete. In this unfortunate situation, the engineering firm selected simply did not do the job they were hired to do.
   That is not the fault of the SAC or Hopewell Township Committee – the responsibility lies with Cerenzio and Panaro.
Randee Tengi, Hopewell Township
Ending may be happy
To the editor:
   The power of the people has been demonstrated by the Federal Aviation Administration’s letter rejecting the draft environmental assessment report submitted by Mercer County Administration’s consultants concerning the proposed Trenton Mercer Airport expansion. The letter, just now released to the public, makes it very clear that the airport expansion project is in trouble – even the FAA isn’t convinced that the project is needed or that the environmental impacts can be justified.
   Why were the deficiencies in the report so glaring? Because people raised a ruckus. The FAA’s letter points out that noise impacts on southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, particularly those towns "from which public and congressional interest has been expressed" must be addressed and were not included in the report. Impacts to surrounding homes were ignored, traffic and parking impacts not adequately assessed. The residents of the region took time out of their lives to speak up at public hearings, at Freeholder meetings, and in letters to the FAA, to bring these issues to light. And the FAA heard it – even if the consultants who wrote the report didn’t. Now the future of the project, which was made out by the Airport expansion’s supporters, including Robert Prunetti, to be unstoppable, has been thrown into question.
   The unwinding of the story of the Trenton/Mercer Airport Expansion may have a happy ending after all. It is simply impossible to build a big facility in this settled residential region. The lesson to be learned is that this fact, pressed on the decision-makers by the people who live here, may be recognized by those who ultimately will decide the project’s fate. Never avoid getting involved just because it looks impossible to win. And never quit until its over. The power of the people is awesome indeed.
Tracy Carluccio, Special Projects
Delaware Riverkeeper Network