Redevelopment plan continues to advance

Sewer line expected to allow new businesses to succeed in downtown New Egypt

PLUMSTED — Planning for the revitalization of New Egypt’s Main Street/business district and to eliminate long-standing environmental degradation to Oakford Lake and Crosswicks Creek took another step forward at the end of 2009 with promising results from a groundwater discharge investigative study commissioned by the Plumsted Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA).

According to a press release from the PMUA, the problems in the lake and creek are associated with individual septic systems and cesspools.

The results of the Lakewood Properties groundwater investigation indicate the potential to recharge up to 840,000 gallons per day of treated waste water, according to the press release. The investigation was undertaken by Van Cleef Engineering and Eastern GeoSciences Inc. in the fall under contract to the PMUA.

The sites investigated are remotely located to the west of the closed municipal landfill near Route 539, referred to as the Lakewood Properties.

At the end of 2009 the Plumsted Township Committee also awarded two bids for the construction of a 24-space municipal parking lot now under construction on Main Street near Church Street and continued improvements to Volunteer Park on Evergreen Road.

These improvements are part of other improvements planned to revitalize New Egypt’s Main Street/business district to make it a more attractive location for mixeduse development, including restaurants and expanded retail businesses. Under current conditions, with no public sewer system in place, new or expanded retail operations are not possible, according to the press release.

The PMUA approved the Lakewood Properties site investigation after a review of options to dispose of the treated wastewater generated from the proposed New Egypt redevelopment project was conducted over the past five years.

The options explored, with input and concurrence from the Ocean County Planning Department and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, included an inter-basin transfer of the treated wastewater from the Delaware Watershed to the Atlantic Watershed to existing sewage treatment plants operated by the Ocean County Utilities Authority; disposal of the treated wastewater to Crosswicks Creek (surface water discharge); the creation of a new regional wastewater treatment authority with North Hanover and New Hanover; sending the waste to the existing sewage treatment plants at either Wrightstown or Fort Dix; and groundwater disposal within Plumsted.

After considering each option, it was determined the only immediate and viable solution to Plumsted’s situation was recharge of the treated wastewater by groundwater discharge, according to the press release.

The selection of the Lakewood Properties site was made after consideration of a number of sites within the township as well as disappointing results from investigations at two other potential groundwater discharge sites. The criteria used in the selection process included sites of at least 50 contiguous acres within the Delaware Basin watershed, well-drained soils, absence of threatened and endangered species, absence of freshwater wetlands, land not included in farmland preservation, and proximity to New Egypt.

From this review, seven sites were identified for evaluation. Two of the properties were excluded because they failed the resulting hydro-geologic testing. Two sites were excluded because they were subsequently placed in the farmland preservation program or purchased with deed restrictions preventing their use for groundwater disposal, according to the press release.

Two sites were excluded because it was determined that existing environmental issues or poor soil types would reduce the amount of land area available below the 50- acre minimum parcel size and/or not be capable of recharging the needed amount of treated wastewater discharge.

The Lakewood Properties site was found to meet all of the above criteria, which the preliminary site investigation has initially confirmed. Additional testing is required to confirm the preliminary study, for permitting and design and construction purposes, according to the PMUA press release.

Two methods for groundwater disposal will be evaluated. These are drip irrigation and infiltration ponds. Drip irrigation is a more passive system, since it does not require as much site clearing as does an infiltration pond system.

The PMUA plans to conduct the expanded testing in early 2010. If all goes well, the PMUA will submit permit applications to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection by the end of 2010. The site for the treatment plant itself is proposed to be located in downtown New Egypt, although other sites are being investigated as well.

To partially fund the Main Street/business district redevelopment project and to expand the downtown customer base, a 336-unit active adult community off Province Line Road is being planned, according to the press release.

In 2007 the township selected the Kokes Organization of Whiting as the developer for the senior housing portion of the redevelopment project. A mixture of one- and two-bedroom single-family homes is planned on the 150-acre site. The project will preserve the existing wetlands on the site and wooded area associated with the Crosswicks Creek Ravine.

The redevelopment project will also be supported by a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program and financial contributions from the New Jersey-American Water Co. and the Kokes Organization. No increase in the number of school-age children will result from the active adult community housing project, according to the PMUA press release.

The New Egypt redevelopment project is a joint project of Plumsted Township and the PMUA under an interim redevelopment agreement entered into last year between the two entities.

According to Mayor Ron Dancer, the New Egypt redevelopment project was conceived in 2002 to provide the means to revitalize New Egypt’s downtown and return it as the anchor of the community it used to be.

Currently, economic growth in the downtown is hampered by the lack of public sewers as well as the poor economy, according to the press release.

The New Egypt redevelopment project envisions the addition and expansion of public parking, designated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, way finding signs, new street lamps, underground utilities and pedestrian linkages both within and to the outside of the downtown.

The abandoned Jersey Central Power & Light right of way will provide an opportunity to connect locations within the downtown, including the school complex, and to existing and planned greenways in adjacent Burlington and Monmouth counties.

The New Egypt redevelopment project also includes the expansion of public water service with the drilling of new wells, according to the press release. Currently, Plumsted Township is at maximum capacity for what it is able to withdraw from the underlying water aquifers.

In some cases, the improvements, such as Volunteer Park and the construction of a new 24-space municipal parking lot, will be completed this spring.

To minimize cost and interruption of services to the downtown businesses and residents, it is expected that other improvements such as wider sidewalks and street lamps will be completed simultaneously with the construction of the public sewer system. The current timetable to start construction of the public sewer system is in mid- to late 2011, according to the press release.

The first phase of the sewer project to be financed will include Main Street as well as areas around Oakford Lake. These two areas have the most critical need for sewers, the PMUA said.

PMUA Chairman Mike McCue said, “I am pleased to see all this work coming together and looking forward to the actual construction of improvements beginning. A lot of effort and thought has gone into the planning of this project. I am convinced the New Egypt redevelopment project will not only serve to revitalize our Main Street district, but will have a positive environmental and economic impact on the township and businesses downtown.”