Hawthorne Press

Letters to the Editor

Barrister at Deep Brook project will have effect on Hawthorne

Dear editor,

This is an open letter to the citizens of Hawthorne from a former borough resident.

At one time serious, widespread flooding in Hawthorne was a rare event worthy of front page news, but lately it seems every rainstorm is followed by headlines of property damage, emergency rescues and road closings. While flooding of the Passaic River and Goffle Brook is nothing new, it once was largely isolated to the Wagaraw Road area, but the frequency and magnitude of the flooding has increased substantially in recent years. Most will agree that development is the, cause, especially upstream on and near the tributaries to the Goffle Brook. More impervious roads and structures significantly increase storm water run-off while as the same time forever eliminating important areas of recharge which absorb run-off.

The Barrister Farms development along the Deep Voll Brook, and the 12-acre Lafayette Hills project have no doubt contributed to the increase in flooding. A major portion of Hawthorne is impacted by every construction project upstream. Although the news of the recent Christian Health Care Center's proposal for 250+ condos on the Hawthorne/Wyckoff border (off Goffle Hill Road) has been mentioned in The Press, another equally disturbing development proposal in Wyckoff known as Barrister at Deep Brook has received little local media attention. Unless someone has seen the www.SaveTheRavine.org signs in Hawthorne and Wyckoff and visited the website, or followed this story in the daily newspaper, he/she may not be aware of this latest assault on an environmentally critical tract. If completed, it will add still more storm water flooding into Hawthorne with every rainfall.

Barrister Home Construction is now before the Wyckoff Planning Board seeking variances to disturb steep slopes, clear cut nearly 300 trees and develop 13 acres of mature woods and wetlands at the Deep Voll Ravine tract. It is this ravine which runs between Goffle Hill Road and Woodside Avenue, behind Jefferson School along the Ambulance Corps/ DPW property, and empties into Arnold's Pond at Goffle Brook Park. The Save the Ravine Alliance has hired an attorney, engineer and planner who have presented clear evidence to the Wyckoff Planning Board why the variances required for this development should be denied. An expert on behalf of the alliance presented major storm water concerns and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection raised some issues. There will be an environmental impact to the immediate area as well as downstream in Hawthorne.

Without the efforts of the Save the Ravine Alliance, it is very likely this development, with all its flaws and problems, would have already been built with the blessing of the Wyckoff Planning Board. Now the Alliance needs the help of the officials and citizens of Hawthorne. From the standpoint of Wyckoff, once the storm water enters the ravine, it becomes someone else's problem. After the developer makes his money, he leaves the problems to the municipality and its residents. Even if Hawthorne residents are not directly affected by the flood waters, they will pay for it in increased taxes to repair the damage to the rest of the town, ongoing and increasing inconvenience caused by closed roads and further stress on overstretched volunteer services.

It's time for local officials and residents to speak up. Hawthorne residents can do so by coming to the next Wyckoff Planning Board meeting scheduled for August 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Wyckoff Town Hall on Franklin Avenue. Visit www.SaveTheRavine.org for information and updates.

Michael Brienza

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