At Tuesday night’s Secaucus Town Council meeting, Mayor Michael Gonnelli announced that Foodtown has backed out of their commitment to open a supermarket at the Xchange development because they don’t think they can generate enough sales.
Foodtown had conducted a feasibility study and began talks with the town six to eight months ago.
“We will continue to lure somebody here,” said Gonnelli. “Trying to compete with Walmart is a tough thing.”
The town has been trying to draw a major supermarket for years, since the Acme closed in the center of town. The closest thing that residents have is the food section of Walmart.
Also at the meeting, the council passed a resolution banning the use of Styrofoam, or polystyrene, from schools, restaurants, and small businesses because it is not biodegradable and can contaminate the soil and waterways.
The resolution passed with one vote against the measure by Councilman Gary Jeffas. Councilman William McKeever was absent for the vote due to the birth of his grandson.
“Polystyrene is very bad for the environment but also for your health.” – Amanda Nesheiwat
“It is a step in the right direction,” said Gonnelli. “We are going to ask anybody that does takeout to get rid of [their Styrofoam] stock and replenish it with something biodegradable.”
Bonefish Grill and Outback Steakhouse are both on board after conversations with the town last week, officials said.
But Jeffas wasn’t so sure about the idea.
“Policing [Styrofoam] is going to be a near impossibility,” he said after the meeting. “In these economic times I don’t think we need to do anything to make it more difficult for restaurants [and] small business owners to operate their businesses and make it more costly. Government can’t regulate everything. I don’t use Styrofoam. I don’t agree with the use of it. I don’t use it in my household, but I have a problem with over legislating it and a problem with enforcement.”
Gonnelli said the town is not looking to fine businesses. But, he added, getting 100 percent compliance would be great.
The town joins over 50 municipalities across the country to ban the material, most of them in California.
Rahway instituted a ban in 1996 according to Clean Water Action, an environmental group.
“Polystyrene is very bad for the environment but also for your health. When you put hot foods in styrene it actually has a chance of getting contaminated with traces of styrene, which actually hurts your nervous system,” said Amanda Nesheiwat, chairperson of the Green Team.
“If we can protect people’s health, let’s do the right thing,” said Councilman James Clancy. Clancy was appointed as the liaison for “Green Team” at the meeting.
Goya expanding to Jersey City
Goya, the food company in Secaucus, was awarded an $82 million tax incentive by the state last week to build a distribution center in Jersey City. Some wondered if this meant that jobs would leave Secaucus.
Don Evanson, a resident, expressed concerns because a similar tax incentive ended up luring the Panasonic company out of Secaucus and into Newark recently.
“Unlike Panasonic…Goya came to us on the first day to tell us what their intention was,” said Gonnelli.
He said the deal is a plus for the town because Goya intends to keep both of its Secaucus locations, one on Seaview Drive and one on Castle Road/New County Avenue.
He added that the Jersey City location is only .9 miles away.
The company may still move some jobs from one town to the other, and also may be moving jobs from New York to New Jersey.
Flooding and pollution
Many residents raised issues about constant flooding from all the rain. Several residents from Humboldt Street asked for a timeline to remedy the situation. They said the rain “gushes in through their back doors” and that yards have become like quicksand. Gonnelli said the town will address the problem immediately and hopes to resolve the issues within the next year. He said the town has applied for three mitigation grants from FEMA to replace outdated storm lines.
Dora Marra said she was afraid of contamination in the ground water from the former Keystone Metal Finishing Plant site on Humboldt, a site that underwent years of remediation, and she wanted to know if the town tested the groundwater.
“I don’t want to start glowing,” said Marra.
Gonnelli told Marra the town tested the groundwater and that the plume of contamination at Keystone has shrunk significantly and is not an issue.
Moment of silence and presentations
The council presented a plaque to a representative from the Breast Cancer Society with a proclamation declaring October National Breast Cancer Month.
Also, Dave Webster from Bonefish Grill and James Botros from Good Fella’s received the Serving the Community Award for sponsorship of town events throughout the year.
The town had a moment of silence for crossing guard Anette Satriano, who passed away on Oct. 5.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.