Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ramapo College Students to Present Environmental Report on Proposed Mall


Contact: Barbara Bodden

Environmental Report by Ramapo College Students
on Proposed Mahwah Mall to be Presented Wednesday

Mahwah, NJ—An environmental impact statement for the proposed Crossroads mall that was developed by Ramapo College students is set to be presented Wednesday at the Municipal Center.  The public hearing in the Council Chambers at the Richard J. Martel Municipal Center, 475 Corporate Drive, will begin at 7 p.m., when environmental studies students will discuss the potential impacts that development on the site could present to the community and surrounding environment. All members of the public are welcome to attend.

Mahwah’s Environmental Commission with support from Mayor William C. Laforet, in an effort to encourage collaboration between the community and the college, asked Professor Michael Edelstein’s Environmental Assessment Capstone Class to prepare an environmental impact statement comparing potential impacts of four alternative scenarios for the property that is now home to the Sheraton Crossroads Hotel and Sharp corporate offices.  The students compared the proposed retail development’s impacts to those of a regional hospital, residential development and a “no-build” alternative. 

An environmental impact statement is an analysis of potential socio-economic, physical and ecological impacts that an action or development could have on many different “indicators” or factors.  Each student was assigned an indicator including health and safety, groundwater, surface water, flora/fauna, visual, climate/air, energy, psychosocial, cultural, environmental justice, noise, material cycling and socioeconomic impacts. 

Two indicators that residents are most concerned about are traffic and toxic contaminants.  This is because the property sits at the intersection of two major highways, route 287 and 17, which already have congestion during commuter and weekend peak hours.  It was also the home to Ford Motor Company’s biggest manufacturing plant from 1955 to 1980 and has a history of volatile organic compound contamination. The site borders the Ramapo River, a regional water supply stream that feeds municipal wells.  

The students will also suggest mitigations to avoid certain impacts and recommend what they believe to be the best use of the site. 

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