"We're done. The NJMC signed off on this today," said NJMC Executive Director Robert Ceberio. "[Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner] Lisa Jackson gets this next, and she should be signing off on this in the next couple of days. Then we present it to the Sports Authority. The next hurdle for the new stadium is the rest of the DEP permits, which have not been issued yet."
Stadium moves forward, but concerns linger
The new Meadowlands stadium, which would be placed on a site between the existing stadium and the Meadowlands racetrack, is being built jointly by the two New York/New Jersey metropolitan area football franchises, the New York Giants and the New York Jets.
The teams will share the planned 84,000-seat stadium once it is completed.
According to plans, the first piles will be driven into the ground next month, followed by a formal groundbreaking ceremony this summer. The stadium, whose final cost is projected between $1 billion and $1.2 billion, is scheduled to open in time for the 2010-2011 football season.
While the stadium has won approval from several major state agencies in recent days, there are still some considerable concerns regarding the project.
The NJSEA's enabling legislation requires the agency to consult with the state DEP and the NJMC in conjunction with any development proposed at the Meadowlands complex "with respect to ecological factors constituting the environment of the Hackensack Meadowlands to the end that the delicate balance of the Hackensack Meadowlands may be maintained and preserved."
The environmental impact statement provided by the teams regarding the stadium raised notable concerns from the DEP and the NJMC.
Of particular concern was the possibility that contaminated sediments disturbed by stadium construction might seep into nearby tidal creeks and wetlands. Those two state environmental agencies stated that the teams' plans must include additional measures to ensure that this will not occur.
While the NJMC serves in an advisory role along with the DEP regarding any development at the Meadowlands sports complex, NJSEA president George Zoffinger noted that most recommendations have been previously adhered to.
The public speaks, and so does Ceberio
Secaucus resident Sam Maffei rose to speak during public participation to address contamination concerns.
"As an environmentalist and a person who is concerned about the Meadowlands district, I certainly agree that there should be zero tolerance for any contamination on any development site," he said. "Eighty thousand people are going to be on that site, as well as employees and ballplayers. We don't to be involved with any lawsuits afterwards. We need to have a safe and clean site for the new stadium."
Ceberio explained how his agency will continue to play a role in the eventual completion of the stadium.
"Anything that happens on the Sports Authority site, we don't have zoning control over, but we have the requirement to look at the environmental impact not only on the site but on the entire Meadowlands district," he said. "What we have done combined with the DEP permitting process is pretty much the entire overall environmental impact review of the process."
Mark J. Bonamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.