Letter: Clean Exide site once
Published 10:29 am, Friday, January 27, 2012
Following discourse on the Exide Group Inc. remediation plan presented at the Conservation Commission hearing, Jan. 18, it is easy to see the emerging picture. We're headed down the same road of expedient reduction of scope and deal-making trim of standards that we endured with the Metro Center property's environmental repair.
All of Fairfield should have but one message for Inco, the State Department of Environmental Protectioin and town agencies. It's no! We're going to do this one once, thoroughly, and right the first time. And you're all accountable for overseeing it with proper testing and removal depths. We get all effluent residue of past nearby manufacturingout of Mill River and finally free the community that has lived with its below ground contamination all these years.
For Inco and the present holding company owners of the property, the ones responsible for the far-reaching lead clean-up, we say whatever bottom line cost is necessary, suck it up! If you cannot find enough cash encumbered on your operating books, then give your board members a cut in pay and let your chairman do without his bonus and stock options for a year. That should balance the funding and set an example in renewed social consciousness America needs in business executive leadership these days.
For Gov. Malloy and the DEP, never mind compromising on standards for the sake of just moving the application approval along. Set the bars sufficiently high so that they will sustain any expert questioning or performance discrepancy left. With this approach, the swaying impulse of politics will be received by the public in its true interest.
For town administration, the perseverance stakes are the highest. Beside its successful remediation, the Exide property is a strategic parcel for town purchase. Its Mill River shore has open space to be preserved and its Post Road expanse is ideal for recreation fields. Drive by it! Look at the green grass! It's our God-given municipal planning hint. The remaining remediation process provides enough time for its incremental value reclassification and purchase financing.
If, instead, town Administration allows itself to be over-influenced by Exide's potential developers, and their attorneys, here's what we'll get: another complex strip with its bank, a drug store chain branch, a gas palace pizza joint, a nails and massage parlor, another chic-y boutique-y retail clothing store -- you name it -- for quick space sale and profit. Selectmen and commissioners, you and we don't have to let that happen with highest and best use insisted upon for this property.
Finally, for us, we can turn this remediation and new use of this land into a success story if we come together and push our authorities. All need to speak with one voice: seniors, neighborhood groups, parents, PTA and soccer moms, even teens and college folk. We can prevail on this issue and surprise ourselves for the good of our town's future.