‘Surprised and disturbed' by Littell

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:56

    To the Editor I was both surprised and disturbed at the attitude taken by a member of Senator Bob Littell's staff when I read your article, "Byram gets one final meeting with DOT to discuss Route 206 plans," regarding an upcoming meeting with the Senator, NJDOT, and representatives of Byram Township. Surprised because at a joint Byram Council/Smart Growth Task Force meeting in March 2003, Senator Littell made the following statement (transcribed directly from the tape of the meeting): "I came here tonight to listen and to hear what the citizens and business people in Byram Township feel about this project. I think from all I heard, you support something, but haven't reached a plan yet that you are happy with, and I think that's great. "Our forefathers intended this process to be a collaborative process, and what you're doing here tonight is certainly collaborative. You're hearing from everybody involved; and, when you go to the next step, you'll be well prepared to carry the banner for your citizens and do what's right. "This can be worked out, and it will be worked out to the satisfaction of the mayor and council and the citizens of Byram Township. "I think you're doing a great job, and I think all of you have worked long and hard to get to this point. Don't cash it in now...wait till you get to the end of the rainbow." Disturbed because the problem is, Byram never was allowed to "carry the banner of its citizens" and do what is right for them! NJDOT shut Byram out of any collaborative planning, and presented a "final plan" to the Township in May. This plan gives no consideration whatsoever to the environmental impact of the project on our community. NJDOT, on the basis of just six pages of flimsy "facts" submitted in 1999, received a Categorical Exclusion from an Environmental Impact Statement. That's right n there has been absolutely no in-depth assessment of the environmental, economic, or social impact this massive project will have upon the community in which it is planned! This despite the fact that the project is within the Highlands, is completely within a State-designated Village Center, crosses a C1 waterway, and encroaches or disturbs at least three areas of wetlands, plus forest and forested wetlands that contain State Threatened and Endangered species habitat. And it runs right across the most significant recharge areas in need of protection for wells providing nearly 1,000 homes with their sole source of drinking water. C'mon, Senator Littell. Byram's elected officials deserve more than a token "last chance" meeting and pointed rhetoric by a staff member in a local paper. And Byram residents, taxpayers who will be footing the nearly $30 million bill for this one-mile boondoggle of a road, deserve better from a man they have elected to represent them. Scott Olson Byram Township