The Tom-Hanks-Moves-to-Ringwood Hoax: A Pipeline Dream

Last Wednesday, I announced to my companion that I’d read news that we’d have a new and very famous neighbor: actor Tom Hanks.


“Where’s he moving to?” my buddy asked. “Somewhere in Bergen County, I’d guess?”


“No. The article said he was moving to Ringwood.”


My friend swallowed his food and blinked his agoggled eyes for a full minute.


“Why?!” he finally asked.


I had no immediate answer, so I told him I’d have it figured out by the time we got to band rehearsal that night.


The article “quoted” Hanks as saying that he’d had enough of Hollywood and he found that Ringwood was a very pretty, peaceful place. Pretty, yes.  Peaceful?  Well…if you don’t being in the midst of Passaic County’s drug manufacturing complex, Ringwood’s a great place.  Ah but there is Skylands Botanical Garden, Ringwood Manor, Shepherd’s Pond, and Ramapo Mountain State Park.


Just so you know, so as not to play with you, I discovered the next day that the whole thing was a hoax. The authors of this fake news had poor Tom Hanks moving to every tiny little town across the United States.  They thought it great sport to toy with conservative little towns being eclipsed by the aura of Hollywood celebrity, their residents overjoyed at the prospect of being overshadowed by dramatic greatness.  Hanks, by no means the first or only celebrity victim of this hoax, was the perfect everyman to fit their bill of a celebrity moving to small town America, even though he’s a native Californian and would have absolutely no incentive whatsoever to leave the Golden State, where he was born.


Ringwood wasn’t as much of a stretch because this town that borders New York State is within 30 minutes commuting distance of New York City (something the authors mentioned as being attractive to Hanks) and Teterboro Airport. Also, Greenwood Lake Airport would be just up the Greenwood Lake Airport for his private flying pleasure.


He’d be within easy commuting distance of New York, that is, except for one problem: Skyline Drive.  As we all know, there are no mountains in New Jersey, as the rest of the world defines them.  But we do have extremely steep hills whose grades are difficult to scale.  Around here, developers don’t build on mountains anymore (as they did in Ringwood and Wanaque); they blow them up.


Celebrities and billionaires, please take note, if you’re thinking of getting away from Hollywood via Ringwood, N.J.: Skyline Drive is inaccessible in severe winter weather.  You might as well try to climb Mount Everest as drive up or down Skyline Drive in the winter.  Locals do it, but they don’t recommend it and the police do close the road during winter storms.


The next accessible entrance to Route 287 is some 15 minutes down the road, in Wanaque.


Why would a rich man like Hanks want to move to Ringwood, indeed. Northern New Jersey has more than its share of wealthy celebrities, but mainly they live in eastern Bergen County.  The closer to the City the better.  In Bergen County, they build gated communities for themselves, ensuring safety from thieves and paparazzi while still being able to make the city in 15 minutes or less.  The hucksters would have been more successful had they selected a tiny Bergen County town like Closter or Hillsdale.


But okay. My friend still wanted an answer and as I hadn’t yet discovered the hoax, I tried to come up with a solution to this mystery.  The answer?


The Pilgrim Pipeline. The environmental activists are up in arms over this gas pipeline.  Funny, they didn’t get their hackles up very high when Tillcon essentially blew up Federal Hill, which is now all but gone.  They’re getting ready to push through the entrance to Route 287 at Exit 53 in Riverdale.


There’s a skip in the exit numbers for Route 287. The next exit north is Exit 55 and therein lies one of the pipeline problems.  It’s where the pipelines – plural, I should say – all meet.


If the Pilgrim Pipeline is separate from a similar north-south pipeline called the Algonquin (indeed, one may be gasoline, the other natural gas), the environmentalists have a lot of pipeline on their plates.


As of this date, the Pilgrim Pipeline has been moved out of Ringwood onto the border of the neighboring, Bergen County town of Mahwah (Tom Hanks, please take note; don’t sign on the dotted line for your Ringwood home just yet). This means this pipeline will traverse the ridge of Ramapo Mountain.


Activists have hysterically noted how close to the Wanaque Reservoir the Pilgrim Pipeline is. As the crow flies, looking at a map, it seems perilously close (!).   However, the activists apparently haven’t actually visited our area and certainly haven’t driven up Skyline Drive in Ringwood.


The entire road nearly six miles long: three miles up a steep grade and another three miles down the other side.  That’s a whole lot of terrain for a gas leak to cascade down before it actually reaches the reservoir.  In between are a forest of trees and a nest of suburban homes clinging to the hillside.  Strange that the activists show no concern for the homes along the pipeline; just the trees, and that reservoir, which is the water supply not for Ringwood and Wanaque (despite) but the city of Newark, miles and miles away.  The reservoir and its surrounding watershed property belong to Newark.

As we all know, if you want to have a voice in any local town council meeting in these parts, you must be a resident, or a paid representative of a resident.  Hence, a charity move into town by a celebrity activist.  They come to live here just long enough, move and shake, and then return to their Hollywood mansions (Hanks has two, although they’re reportedly up for sale).

Ah, that should bring Tom Hanks and friends flying in! Hanks is a committed Democrat and FOO (Friend of Obama) Fighter.  Strange still, that the activists aren’t concerned about the Tennessee Gas Pipeline which actually passes right over (or under) the Wanaque Reservoir far to the north, near the New York State border.


The activists cite claims about the dangers of shipping gasoline and natural gas. They cite some statistic about one natural gas incident happening per month.  What they don’t state is that these accidents typically happen in residential communities, usually at an individual address, where either a builder doesn’t check the plans for the location of the pipe and hits it, or a municipal worker doing roadwork hits a main, or a homeowner is not home to detect a leak or is home but doesn’t recognize it because they’re sleeping (that happened to us when I was a child).


Natural gas is naturally odorless, so the natural gas company adds an artificial odor which should be detectable. But sometimes, older people can become confused and think they’re natural gas stove is lit when it isn’t.  In any case, while there are some small risks of an explosion, responsible homeowners can easily avoid catastrophes.  Municipal employees and builders need to take greater care in examining maps and blueprints before proceeding with work.


With that said, natural gas is an extremely efficient source for home fuel. LPNG is also independent of the electrical grid.  While an electrical ignition is required to turn it on, if there’s a power failure, an electric generator will serve the purpose.  During Hurricane Sandy, here in Northeastern New Jersey, many homeowners were fortunate to have natural gas heat to warm their homes and run their stoves, in order to cook.  We who have only electric heat froze during those very cold October days.


Residents in the Ringwood area – which encompasses an area from West Milford, its next-door neighbor in the north, to Wayne in the south – are by no means opposed to having natural gas for heat. Any property owner who either has or can make the switch chooses it over oil and certainly over electric.


Nor are we particularly frightened of the pipeline itself. At least one natural gas pipeline has run straight through this area since the Sixties, over what was Federal Hill.  The pipeline certain cut a swath through the forested hill.  However, far from upsetting Mother Nature’s critters, the deer and the rabbits were happy to have an open place, a meadow, in which to frolic and sun themselves.


Nevertheless, residents both Democrat and Republican are upset over the various pipeline plans and both for environmental reasons. The installation of these pipelines will require even more detonations, more excavations, and more permanent ruination of what is left of our natural landscape.  What hasn’t already been devastated in the name of “Sustainable Housing” will be destroyed by these pipelines.


At least one of the pipelines – the Tennessee not the Algonquin or Pilgrim pipelines – is much too close to that reservoir. One appears to cut right across the reservoir and the other right near its northern border.  The plans are constantly in flux, so that no one really knows ultimately where these pipelines will eventually be built.


The difference between the two groups is that the Democrats oppose the pipelines on ideological grounds whereas the Conservatives oppose it on – well – conservative grounds, as in conserving nature. This is a beautiful area.  Or at least it was.


It’s hard to imagine Tom Hanks moving here. We are in Passaic County, not Bergen.  There are no truly wealthy communities in Passaic County, except for Wayne, and if Hanks doesn’t like Los Angeles, he certainly wouldn’t like Wayne.  Ringwood is at the end of the world.  Civilization stops, pretty much, at the Ringwood Diner.  Farther up the road, there are various shopping centers on Skyline Drive – a Shop Rite, a CVS.  But there civilization ends.  That’s the way the Ringwooders like it, too.  They don’t need any Hollywood celebrities to validate their peaceful existence.  They don’t need the meth factories, either.  In Ringwood, when you see a “No Trespassing” sign, you’d better heed because you’ll find yourself at the business end of either a shotgun (the JWs – and I don’t mean the Jehovah Witnesses, either!) or an AK-47.


Still, it would be great, in a way, if Tom Hanks brought his star status to bear on the pipeline construction. Bergen County has the wealth to drive the pipeline away from their share of the woodlands.  The residents of Passaic County have no such power or influence.  If the influential want to turn all of Bloomingdale, Pompton Lakes, Wanaque, Riverdale, and Butler into one huge city by 2050 (those are the plans) there’s not a thing we can do about it.


To their credit, the pipeline company is planning to run these pipelines in the least-populated regions. Two or three of the pipelines at one juncture will run through the now-flattened Federal Hill.  Oh, they’ll still plant an entire city on top of it; they’re running another pipelines right through the center of Jersey City.  So, if it running a pipeline through the middle of a big city doesn’t cause them any worry, they’re certainly not going to bat an eye at putting a pipeline through a sandpit and then building an entire city on top of it.


So Tom Hanks, we know you’re not coming; that it was all a huge of hoax of fake news to mock the small town values of communities like Ringwood (not that it was your fault in any way). But if you were ever seriously contemplating moving to Ringwood, forget about it.


Still, where’s John Denver when you need him?


To quote Treebeard, from the film, “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”:  “Nobody cares for the woods, anymore.”






Published in: on May 8, 2017 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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