KARCHER SECURES FUNDING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY OF MARLBORO HOSPITAL
MARLBORO – Senator Ellen Karcher announced today that Marlboro Township will receive a State grant to fund an environmental study of the Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital property, in order to determine the best way to proceed for the future of the property.
"The old saying goes that knowledge is power, particularly in directing the fate of Marlboro Psychiatric to best serve the citizens of the township," said Senator Karcher, D-Marlboro. "The hospital has been closed for nearly a decade, but before we take the next step with the property, we need to document the environmental hazards that lay within. Without a thorough study of the environmental problems at Marlboro Psychiatric, we cannot in good conscience open up that property for use by the public."
Senator Karcher obtained a grant for $127,000 from the Hazardous Site Remediation Fund to conduct an environmental study on the Marlboro Psychiatric property and some surrounding areas. The Hazardous Site Remediation Fund is a partnership between the New Jersey Department of Environment Protection (DEP) and the Economic Development Authority (EDA). As a result of the State funding, the environmental study will be conducted without any cost to local taxpayers.
Senator Karcher noted that, before the property can be redeveloped or preserved as open space, environmental concerns must be addressed. She pointed to Big Brook Park, in which the county bought 378 acres of hospital property in 1997 for parkland, but never opened the park due to potential environmental contamination.
"Preliminary reports suggest substantial environmental damage on the hospital property," said Senator Karcher. "We want to ensure the safety of the area before moving forward with any plans for the site. The worst thing we could do is create parkland on a toxic waste site without proper remediation. We don't want to have another Big Brook Park on our hands."
Senator Karcher also noted that rampant overdevelopment in Marlboro in recent years, paid for through bribery and corruption, should be more than enough reason to proceed cautiously on the redevelopment of the Marlboro Psychiatric property. Senator Karcher added that developable tracts are at a premium in the Township, but any development must conform with State and local environmental regulations and zoning laws.
"Much of the overdevelopment which has occurred in recent years in Marlboro has skirted environmental laws and local zoning, while corrupt elected officials looked the other way," said Senator Karcher. "Before we move forward with any revitalization or reuse of the Marlboro Psychiatric property, we need to do our homework about the existing environmental hazards, and ensure safe and thorough clean-up of the site. And we must ensure that any reuse plan sets aside significant open space and does not trample on the history of the site."
The funding for the environmental study of Marlboro Psychiatric is part of Senator Karcher's commitment to ensure quality open space preservation in New Jersey's municipalities. She has recently sponsored legislation reauthorizing the State's farmland preservation and historic site preservation subsidy programs, and has been pushing for dedicated spending for New Jersey's Garden State Preservation Trust Fund, to protect open space in the State from overdevelopment and suburban sprawl.
"New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, and without State protections for open space, we will quickly lose any traces of our history as the Garden State," said Senator Karcher. "Our State government has a responsibility to fund environmental clean-up, open space preservation and other programs which impact our land, water and air, without further burdening New Jersey's local taxpayers. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to ensure that we meet the needs of New Jersey's environment and protect our natural resources from overdevelopment."