The Burlington Island Board of Island Managers and a Mount Holly-based developer are asking the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the state of New Jersey to reconsider plans to deposit soil from upper Delaware River dredging on Burlington Island. The uninhabited island lies in the Delaware between Philadelphia and Trenton.
They groups plan to rally Saturday at the Burlington City waterfront.
Jim Cipriano, president of the Board of Island Managers, an educational trust, said depositing tons of dirt and sand from the bottom of the river on the 300-acre island would jeopardize plans to transform it into a recreation destination, complete with an interactive museum, bike paths and trails.
“If the Army Corps of Engineers does use the island for what I term as a ‘dirt warehouse,’ investors will be less likely to invest money to develop the island and we will lose the opportunity to create a revenue stream to help educate the youth in the city of Burlington.” Cipriano said.
Charles Myers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said two 25-acre plots on the island’s southern tip were used for periodic deposits of dirt from the upper Delaware River from the 1930s through the 1980s.
“This is the only site along the upper part of the area of responsibility that is really a viable site to support the much-needed maintenance dredging,” Myers said.
Under the new plan, old deposits would be removed from the island for use as gravel and sand to make way for the new dredging material. The dredge spoils would sit there for years to dry before being shipped to end users.
Myers said the island is one of four sites where fill from maintenance dredging, needed to make the river passable for ships, will go.
The state is currently testing the old dredging deposits to make sure they are not contaminated and can be used for fill in construction projects. A Corps of Engineers representative said it would be a few years before new material would be placed on the island.