As a North Hudson resident (Weehawken), the Edgewater fire really scared me. In Edgewater, the fire began in a 5 story wood-framed apartment complex, not unlike the ones being constructed at 51st Street on West New York's waterfront; that 5-story apartment complex in Edgewater became an inferno within 15 minutes according to some accounts (thank God that the complex was not occupied). This complex was built on the former site of the ALCOA Chemical Building. This was a brownfield site, which means that the complex was built over toxic waste. Did this toxic waste fuel the fire? Were harmful chemicals emitted into the air via the fire or in the ashes that blew around afterward? Why wasn't the DEP brought in when this fire broke out?
Newspaper and TV news reports said that the flames rose 100 feet in the air. If this is how high the flame could rise from a five-story building, how high would they rise with an 8, 10 , or 12 story building like the ones that the Weehawken Planning Board approved for our waterfront? Would chemicals be emitted into the air in Weehawken, harming residents? Also, 9 homes were destroyed and 16 others severely damaged in Edgewater with a small apartment complex bursting into flames. Would a huge fire on our 90-acre waterfront destroy all of Boulevard East and King's Bluff?
We have heard no plans to build a firehouse on the Weehawken waterfront. If this weren't bad enough, Pershing Road is going to be closed for one year to be rebuilt, which would mean that a firetruck would have access to our waterfront from only 19th Street or 60th Street. In rush hour traffic (already horrible, but imagine it with 8 thousand more people), we'd all be dead. Several fires occurred on Jersey City's waterfront in completed buildings (with sprinkler systems) a few months ago. Although the firefighters were well trained, there was some question as to whether their equipment could handle high-rise fires? How would building a new firehouse, purchasing new state of the art equipment, and hiring more firefighters (they have actually decreased the number of firefighters in recent times) affect fiscal impact?
As a Weehawken resident, I feel that our safety is really being jeopardized with this development. We need to stop over-development before we have a worse situation than Edgewater and people lose their lives.
Thomas F. Kralik