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Grant Funding for Pocket Park Held-Up by Paperwork

River Edge is still waiting on final approval for Green Acres grant funds for the Cherry Blossom pocket park but things have been held up due to extra paperwork

Initially purchased in 2008 with the help of a Bergen County Open Space grant, work on the less than an acre Cherry Blossom Park has stalled as River Edge works to file the remaining Green Acres grant funding paperwork to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The outstanding paperwork includes an Action Mediation Program to remove any soil that contains chlordane as well as proof that the former underground fuel storage tank did not leak during its 2011 removal.

"Lisa Stern from the DEP Green Acres program made a site visit last week and she is satisified with the visual state of the park," Borough Administrator Alan Negreann said. "But there are some outstanding items that we are working diligently on to get back to the DEP and move forward."

Chlordane was used as an insecticide prior to 1983 for crops, lawns and gardens. The property was once used for agriculture during the 1930s and 1940s. Rich Lake of  Environmental Resolutions Inc., had previously estimated that between 100 to 300 tons of soil would have to be removed, disposed of and replaced at a cost of $15,000 to $30,000.

The current building on site also needs to be demolished, but asbestos siding remediation has to take place first. The Green Acres grant could be used toward the building demolition, but not the remediation which has to be completed prior to receiving any grant funding.

"We are now this close to getting the Green Acres funding," Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo said. "To get this done, there must be a combined effort between the borough, Shade Tree, Beautification, Recreation, DPW and the schools."

According to Moscaritolo, the DPW will remove the blacktop and rear lot tree inhouse to save the borough money, but that the borough would need to access the back of the property either through Cherry Hill School or Cherry Mews, a deadend street that runs behind the property.

There is currently no time frame for any work to be completed.

The Cherry Blossom Park property had a purchase price of $435,000 with a $217,500 County Open Space grant. The borough could receive up to $300,00 in Green Acres funding, but the exact amount will not be finalized until the remaining paperwork has been completed and approved by the DEP.

Depending on the available Green Acres monies, the borough may have to bond the remaining amount for remediation costs, site improvements and the creation of the playground, benches, pathway, and community garden.

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