Superfund clean up becomes catalyst for change in Ridgewood

The Superfund site in Ridgewood
The Superfund site in Ridgewood

For the auto-mechanics and other small business owners who call Ridgewood’s radioactive Superfund site home, Federal plans for cleaning up and demolishing their businesses could mean the end of an era.

“The rent is crazy. I can’t find a place like that,” Alberto Rodriguez, who pays $3,600 a month in rent for his garage, told The New York Times. “When you move, you have to start again. The customers, they don’t follow you,” he added.

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Rodriguez’s shop is one of six businesses at the intersection of Cooper and Irving Avenues in Ridgewood slated for demolition under the cleanup plan overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency. The radioactive Superfund project now promises to change a long established part of the neighborhood and eventually turn it over to new development.

But the long-time neighborhood business owners say they have nowhere else to go and that compensation from the EPA is not enough.

“If people say, ‘We’re not concerned,’ obviously we’ll listen to that,” Walter Mugdan, an acting deputy regional administrator for the EPA told the Times. “But the current businesses are not the only people who have an interest in this. We’re not just cleaning up for today and tomorrow. Eventually the intention is to clean up on a long-term basis.”  [NYT] -Christopher Cameron