North Bergen is Hazardous to Public Health

Dear Editor:

In an 11-04-20 resolution, North Bergen commissioners seek NJDEP’s approval to divert Braddock Park recreational land to North Bergen Preschool use. The commissioners claim the 17 trailer preschool meets the NJDEP requisite of “fulfilling a compelling public need by mitigating a hazard to public health, safety or welfare.”

Wrong.

These 20 year old trailers are dangerous, as is this resolution.

NJEA says trailers should NEVER be used for more than 20 years.
Years ago, North Bergen told NJDEP the trailers are “antiquated”, “trailers are typically leased for five years” and they have “aged beyond their useful life.”

The trailers have had multiple problems and violations; rotten walls, broken electrical conduit, missing gutters and downspouts, groundhogs living under them.

In 2008, the fire department inspector issued a violation because the trailers had one, not two emergency exits. North Bergen ignored this violation until 2017 when the public complained to the state. Fortunately school was not in session in 2012 when a tree fell on electric wires, igniting a fire that destroyed two trailers.

Officials never conducted a traffic safety study of the preschool site, until again, the public complained, in 2015. Hudson County-North Bergen engineers concluded the narrow preschool roadway should be widened and sidewalk installed.

North Bergen ignored their advice.

North Bergen has historically submitted false safety information and statistics to NJDEP concerning crime, traffic accidents, etc. around the preschool.

Yes, preschools do fulfill a public need, but for 20 years, North Bergen’s preschool has jeopardized the public’s health and safety and officials’ misrepresentations and inaction worsen the situation.

North Bergen voters approved a $65 million referendum designed to acquire the Hi-Tech HS campus so the entire school system could be reconfigured, allowing preschoolers to go to elementary schools with their siblings. North Bergen reneged on its promise, betraying the voters’ trust and misusing their tax money.

NJDEP should insist North Bergen remove this dangerous preschool from the location it has been illegally situated in for 20 years. If NJDEP won’t, the NJ Attorney General should.

Robert Walden