The property at 300 Haddon Avenue is in arrears and has environmental issues onsite, officials say.
By Matt Skoufalos | January 22, 2024
The Collingswood municipal government is exploring redevelopment opportunities at a former borough service station that they say has fallen into disrepair.
The shuttered property at 300 Haddon Avenue, which formerly operated as Bob Engime’s Service, has been on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Specific Potential Contaminant Source Inventory (PCSI) for Collingswood since 2001.
Since the passing of Oaklyn resident Robert Engime in 2006, the property, which is owned by Engime’s estate, also has accrued more than $133,000 in liens, back taxes, and sewer and water rents, according to borough records.
Now Collingswood officials believe the best way to resolve those issues is to redevelop the property, potentially acquiring it by eminent domain, and applying for money from the NJDEP Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund (HDSRF) to clean it up.
In addition to environmental concerns at the site, Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley said the location is becoming a neighborhood nuisance, citing illegally parked cars there.
“We’ve been trying to get them to get it cleaned up,” Maley said. “It’s a constant enforcement issue. We’ve been waiting long enough for something to happen.”
“There’s definitely environmental problems there, and the current owners don’t have the means to address them,” Collingswood Borough Administrator Cass Duffey said. “Right now, it’s a contaminated, underused site.”
At its January meeting, the Collingswood municipal government authorized the borough planning board to conduct a preliminary investigation determining whether 300 Haddon Avenue is an area in need of redevelopment.
The board will next create a map of the property, establish a public hearing date, and define the potential boundaries of redevelopment in the area.
If that plan is approved, the borough could them move to condemn the property, acquire it by eminent domain, and return it to active use. Maley said the borough would not incur any acquisition costs of the property because of the tax liens on it.
Whatever form the property eventually takes can only emerge after a long process of cleanup and pursuit of the funds to effectuate it, he said.
“What it is is way out of our vision,” the mayor said. “It could be offices; it could be another gas station. We want to return it to a productive use.”
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