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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2004

Contact: Fred Mumford
(609) 984-1795

Remedial Investigation Begins at Bergenfield Auto Parts Company Site
Merger Proposed for Properties at Historic New Bridge Landing

(04/41) TRENTON- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the start of a soil and ground water investigation at the Bergenfield Auto Parts Company to determine the extent of any contamination. Test results also will help move forward productive reuse of the site as DEP pursues preservation of this property under its Green Acres program.

"DEP begins this week the necessary steps to protect public health and the Hackensack River from contamination at this site," said Commissioner Campbell. "DEP will continue to negotiate with the property owner to merge this important land parcel with several nearby historic sites to fulfill a long-standing desire of the New Bridge Landing Park Commission to better protect a valuable part of our country's history. Assemblywoman Weinberg and County Executive McNerney deserve high praise for pursuing expansion of the adjacent historic site."

"We are delighted with this major step toward the purchase of this property so important to our state's history," said Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg. "We are thankful that Commissioner Campbell took the necessary legal steps to properly determine the extent of cleanup work needed on this property. Commissioner Campbell's visit to New Bridge Landing in January and the DEP's continued work show how a partnership between the state, county and local governments can produce wonderful results."

"Protecting and preserving our national heritage is critically important," said Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney. "I applaud the state's efforts in helping us save this historic treasure now and for future generations."

The Bergenfield Auto Parts Company property is located in River Edge Borough, Bergen County. The business is now inactive, but the property had been used as an auto parts recycling and storage business since about 1939. DEP's remedial investigation will include soil and sediment sampling, ground water monitoring, an ecological evaluation and wetland mapping. The test results will be used to develop a cleanup plan to properly address contamination found at the site. Such work may be incorporated into future reuse of the site. DEP expects to complete the remedial investigation in three months followed by further negotiations with the property owner for purchase of the land.

History of New Bridge Landing
A "New Bridge" was built at the narrows of the Hackensack River in 1744, linking the roads leading to Manhattan. Merchant Jan Zabriskie erected a sandstone mansion nearby in 1752, overlooking his gristmill and wharf, where farm produce, cordwood, and iron manufactured in the Jersey Highlands was sent to city markets.

American and British armies repeatedly fought for control of this strategic hamlet, making New Bridge the Crossroads of the American Revolution. When British and Hessian troops climbed the Palisades in November 1776, Washington led the outnumbered American garrison at Fort Lee across the bridge to safety. Eyewitness Thomas Paine immortalized "the bridge over the Hackensack," in his famous essay, the Crisis, which began with the words: "These are the times that try men's souls." Washington later made the Zabriskie House his headquarters in September 1780. At the war's end, the State of New Jersey presented the Zabriskies' New Bridge estate to Major-General Baron von Steuben, the Prussian Inspector-General of the Continental Army.

The State of New Jersey acquired the Zabriskie-Steuben House as a State Historic Site in 1928. The historic Demarest House and Campbell-Christie House were moved onto the grounds, respectively in 1956 and 1977. The Historic New Bridge Landing Park Commission, established in 1995, coordinates the efforts of the NJDEP's Division of Parks and Forestry, the County of Bergen, the Bergen County Historical Society, the Blauvelt-Demarest Foundation, the Borough of River Edge, the Borough of New Milford and the Township of Teaneck in preserving one of America's most historic places.

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