Interest in Nat’l Lead project a promising sign

It’s been 23 years since National Lead stopped operating on Sayreville’s waterfront, but lately the property has been generating an immense amount of interest from people seeking a piece of what will ultimately be a massive redevelopment project.

In the few short months since the borough solicited proposals in the redevelopment, it has received some 140 inquiries from interested parties ranging from national development firms to local professionals. The attention, which is far greater than has been seen for redevelopment projects under way in nearby towns such as East Brunswick, Milltown and Helmetta, is due mostly to the land’s size and location.

The 427-acre property, which could be expanded to include several adjacent parcels such as the defunct Amboy Multiplex movie theater site, straddles the Garden State Parkway and Route 9, and stretches east beyond Route 35. Even the contamination present on the land is not enough to outweigh the value of this location.

Borough officials were pleased to discuss the great interest in their project, one that has been the subject of much discussion and legal battles over the years, and they have wisely extended the deadline for proposal submissions to November. When you’ve got something this precious on your hands, there’s no need to rush.

Sayreville has a great deal invested in the future of this property, including millions of dollars that will eventually have to be paid back to Middlesex County by those who ultimately develop the site. Also at stake is the borough’s economic future, as the eventual development could have a tremendous impact on the local budget, for better or worse.

Mayor Kennedy O’Brien has long described the National Lead redevelopment as the key to Sayreville’s future. He has promised it will bring a new image and a new economic engine to the town. He and the borough as a whole have a lot riding on this one. By taking it slow and keeping discussions open and honest, they just might get what they’re after.