Editor’s note: The following editorial did not appear in print, but will on Jan. 1, 2020.
Our long national local nightmare is finally over, to paraphrase a quote once spoken by President Gerald R. Ford. After a year-long battle, the saga at the Keegan Landfill is now over. And we can finally rest, assured, that the health hazards we’re more than aware of by now, and that horrendous odor, will finally cease … soon.
The agreement between the Town of Kearny and the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority calls for a two-phase cap on the landfill, with the western side being completed by the end of 2020 — and the rest sometime in 2021.
That timeframe is remarkable, given it took substantially longer to close and cap other Jersey landfills. And for that, we are truly grateful.
We’ll still need to be somewhat patient. Until the cap is completed, there could be times we get bad odors. Hydrogen-sulfide levels could be high occasionally. But no matter what happens, it will all be over sometime in 2021.
This newspaper will continue to monitor the situation for the next two years.
With all of this said, we take this time to acknowledge the people who fought to get to this day.
Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos and Councilmembers Albino Cardoso, Marytrine DeCastro, Peter Santana, Eileen Eckel, Carol Jean Doyle, Jerry Ficeto and Susan McCurrie demonstrated what relentless leadership is all about.
State Sen. Nicholas Sacco, who proposed a resolution demanding the closure of the landfill and its cap, demonstrated how fortunate we are to be able to call him our representative in Trenton. It cannot ever be forgotten that so much progress happened after his resolution passed the Senate’s Environment and Energy Committee.
We were also shown support from leaders in the Kearny School System, from Superintendent of Schools Patricia Blood — whose letter to the governor was one of the most passionate pleas throughout the ordeal — to members of the board of education.
We were shown great support from our neighbors to the south, Harrison, whether it was in a resolution of support from Mayor James A. Fife and the Town Council — or in former Councilman Anselmo Millan securing thousands of petition signatures from resident of the town.
The most inspiring support, however, came from everyday citizens who rose to the occasion, in ways we haven’t seen the issue of the day was housing sex offenders in South Kearny.
We fear will forget names and so rather than create that faux-pas, we will simply say that it was under the leadership of Kearny resident Cristina Montague that hundreds of people wrote letters, made phone calls, sent emails, attended meetings, signed petitions, attended meetings, came to an April protest and, essentially, did more than regular civilians could ever be expected to do.
This was a true community effort, one of which we were proud to be a small part.
And in the process, we must say thank you to the NJSEA — from President Vincent Prieto and Chairman John Ballantyne to Commissioner Armando B. Fontoura to everyone else at the agency for finally realizing the seriousness of this ordeal and for doing the right thing once and for all.
We heard Ballantyne when he noted the NJSEA is much more than just the operator of landfills, and we will do our best, in the coming months, to explore and publish some of the great things they truly do.
While there are, indeed, hurt feelings, in the spirit of Christmas, where the birth of Jesus is celebrated, we hope there is also forgiveness on everyone’s part. Jesus called for it. So why can’t we all do the very same?
And so from Lisa and Tina Feorenzo, Bob and Kim Pezzolla, Michelle Rybeck, Jim Hague, Karen Zautyk and Kevin Canessa, we wish all of our readers and advertisers the happiest and most joy-filled Christmas imaginable. We also wish that same joy and happiness to our friends celebrating Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
Now, let’s all enjoy that amazing Christmas miracle!
It doesn’t get much better than this.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.