Oakland’s Proposed Recycling Center Faces Opposition From Mayor and Community

The recent Oakland Borough Council meeting saw broad resistance to a proposed Class B Recycling Center in the area. This center, planned for 342 West Oakland Avenue, has become the focal point of various environmental, traffic, and community concerns. Mayor Linda H. Schwager expressed her firm stance against the facility, and residents raised numerous issues to question the project’s viability.

The recycling center’s proposal, which dates back to 2017, intends to process up to 900 tons of materials daily, including concrete, brick, and asphalt-based roofing. While the Bergen County Utility Authority had discussed an amendment to its solid waste management plan in a meeting on September 28, 2023, Mayor Schwager was unequivocal in her opposition. “I am working very hard to stop this facility from coming into Oakland,” she stated, urging residents to sign petitions against the facility.

Residents voiced a series of concerns. A major worry was the potential environmental impact, particularly regarding the silica dust released from concrete processing. As one resident pointed out, “you’re grinding concrete … Silica is going to go up in the air.” Another pressing issue was the potential for increased traffic congestion, as brought up by resident Elizabeth Geisberg. She emphasized the risk posed by adding more trucks on West Oakland Avenue, which is already fraught with cars not adhering to stop signs.

Confusion also ensued about the applicant’s claim of having a “Highlands exemption,” as the site in question is part of the Highlands region preservation area, meant to protect water resources and natural habitats.

The meeting concluded with the council’s resolve to authorize the borough attorney to prevent further actions by the Bergen County Utility Authority and other entities regarding the proposed recycling center. An additional allocation of $10,000 was approved for the borough attorney’s contract to facilitate this action. Residents were encouraged to continue voicing their concerns and participating in petitions against the recycling center.

In other matters, the meeting celebrated the accomplishments of the fourth-grade Bergen County Girls Softball League Champions. They were recognized for their resilience, earning the nickname “comeback queens.” Mayor Schwager’s support of the sport, underscored by her regular attendance at games, was acknowledged.

Other significant discussions at the council meeting included the funding status of the Page-Hitsway Bridge and concerns about speeding near the Rampo River Reserve. Assurances about consistent water quality, despite changing regulations on PFAS and PFOA water treatment, were also provided.

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