No sooner had I torn the paid ad from Save Federal Hill out of the Sunday Suburban Trends than I discovered the Wednesday edition of the newspaper had landed on my porch, a day late, as usual.
The town council has cancelled the July 30 (today) Planning Board meeting, at which the feasibility of allowing to Tilcon to mine the rest of Federal Hill (and other hills) for the next 50 years.
This discovery came just as another rumble shook my little condominium unit. Another piece of Bloomingdale had just been blown into history. Somewhere, Obama was undoubtedly smiling. These disconcerting explosions are like the distant thunder of war, the cannons of Social Justice blowing our little suburb, nestled in the peaceful, rolling hills of northern New Jersey, into oblivion.
The new Trends article states:
“The Borough Council has hired ‘experts’ to help determine the economic, demographic, and fiscal impacts of the current state of the Meer Tract, the proposed quarry expansion and affordable housing zone, and to look at whether a housing development that includes market-rate and affordable dwelling units is a viable use of the property. In the meantime, the July 30 Planning Board hearing on a proposed amendment to the master plan, which would provide a quarry overlay district on the Meer Tract, has been cancelled.”
The article goes on to state:
“At its July 21 meeting, the governing body hired Richard Reading Associates, a Princeton-based marketing consulting firm at a cost projected between $12,000 and $14,000, and the Otteau Group of East Brunswick, which are property value experts, at a cost not to exceed $17,500. The experts’ fees will be paid by Tilcon.”
“Mayor Dunleavy said Richard Reading Associates will examine the economic, demographic, and fiscal implications of the current, undeveloped use of the property, and the prospective use of quarrying, reclamation, and related industrial uses on a portion of the Meer property adjacent to the property already owned by Tilcon, and an additional section of the property being developed for an inclusionary housing project containing a total of 360 housing units including 72 affordable housing units. The consultants will also examine the independent development of the property by [the] Meer [estate] for the court-approved affordable housing use. In the event the Tilcon quarrying expansion did not move forward, the owners of the Meer property could continue to offer the property for sale to a housing developer that may want to undertake the inclusionary development providing that site improvements did not render the development economically unfeasible.
“According to Reading’s proposal to the borough, the site improvement costs, which are being prepared independently by the Otteau Group, will be a key determinant in the potential for development without a quarry expansion. If the affordable housing were not developed on the Meer property, it is possible that these 72 units must be provided elsewhere in Bloomingdale through the addition of another affordable housing site or a municipally-owned project. A municipally-sponsored 100 percent affordable housing unit project would likely require land acquisition costs and operating deficits for the borough and the school district that would not be offset by market units.”
Note the reporter’s use of the word “inclusionary.” This is the new code developed after Obama’s recent executive order deeming any community that does not meet even the appearance of complying with affordable housing, does not have the requisite percentage of minority population, the courts, acting on behalf of the federal government, will force the towns to accommodate them.
Bloomingdale, like over 400 other towns in New Jersey, made the mistake of signing on to Sustainable Jersey and all that that organization’s overreaching mandates imply. Obama’s power is great indeed, in that he can blow up granite – one of the hardest rocks known to geology – hillsides. (We call them mountains here, but they’re actually hills in anyone else’s definition).
Back in the 1980s another study was done on the prospect of developing Federal Hill. Engineers and other experts deemed that, while the hills are not high, their grade is extremely steep, which made development unfeasible. The only alternative was to allow Tilcon – whose contract to mine Federal Hill and vicinity ran out in 2011 – to continue mining until they completely flattened the area.
Federal Hill – which includes Washington Hill, the now-flattened Riverdale Hill, and Bloomingdale Hill – has always been a site of controversy. Originally, the hills served as watchtowers for the Colonial Militia to signal the approach of the British Regulars.
In the winter of 1781, starving militia, unpaid for months, resolved to mutiny and stage a march on Washington, D.C. They were soon caught and returned to Federal Hill. A trial was held and the three ringleaders were sentenced to execution. One pleaded for mercy, but the other two were executed. The order was for their own troops to fire upon them, or be executed themselves.
The decision was a hard one for Gen. Washington, waiting at nearby Ringwood Manor, where iron was forged for the chain across the Hudson. He felt he had no choice but to take a hard line in the matter. He couldn’t afford to allow even one mutiny – even one that could be justified on humanitarian grounds – to succeed or the effort at independence would fail.
During World War I, Federal Hill was used as a munitions depot. Although it has probably been blasted away by now, there used to be a site called “The Iron Door.” This was a mysterious door that locked from the inside. The Iron Door was an object of curiosity for children and teenagers for several generations.
Then, during World War II, or just prior to it, a National Socialist Youth Group based in Berlin, Germany, bought the tract of land to use as a summer campsite. The Nazi Bund Camp, it was called by the locals. Bergenwald I believe it was called in German. Bergwald! That was it. I was close.
Even the KKK was unhappy with its presence. After World War II broke, the federal government investigated the site and forced the owners off the hillside. Federal Hill overlooked a rocket base in Pompton Plains, the nearby DuPont Chemical Plant in Pompton Lakes which made mercury for gunsights necessary for the infantry fighting in Europe and Japan, and the railroad line which delivered rubber from the rubber factory in Butler to the seaports to the east.
In short, Federal Hill was the ideal spot for a spy to report on munitions activities.
In the 1950s or 60s, the property was turned over to local mining operations. Still, the remains of the Nazi Bund Camp was attractive to hikers and vagrants. We often hiked up there when we were children (accompanied by our mother and our Rhodesian Ridgeback, Brownie).
But the vagrants and the hippies were becoming a problem, and in the late Sixties the Bloomingdale Fire Department burned the shacks down. Inside the shacks, before they were destroyed, local teenagers found record books noting the names of all the Alliance families in the area (the Alliance was – and is – a merger of the KKK and the Neo-Nazis).
Whatever might have happened in those woods – and usually does happen in wooded areas – Federal Hill served as a buffer between Bloomingdale and the increasingly hardened urban world to the East. Obama and his minions will not suffer that barrier to stand, especially given its history.
Federal Hill would serve as another buffer – against nuclear war. It could very well serve, with its hard, granite foundation, as a buffer against any coming nuclear strike. Bloomingdale and the communities beyond might be spared the worst, if not all, of the initial effects of a blast coming from New York City.
The whole situation reminds me of the scene in the Harry Potter movie where Dolores Umbridge and her student minions blast open the door to the Room of Requirement where Harry Potter and his pals are forming Dumbledore’s Army.
I’m reminded every year when I have to have my older brother wax away the iron oxide from my red Saturn Vue. I’m reminded every time I hear the boom, boom, boom of the quarry blasts, and the sliding away of another slice of Bloomindale. I’m reminded when I read articles like the one I just quoted from the Suburban Trends, or hear the lies and false assurances personally from Mayor Dunleavy.
What’s happening in Bloomingdale is happening all over the United States. There is no place, that I know of, where the blasting sounds so much like the thunder of war, a war being ordered by our own president.