Trenton will have a safe environment where residents are free from the hazards of land, air, water, and building contamination.
As enumerated in the Issues and Opportunities Report, a number of issues in the City of Trenton negatively affect the health of residents. The industrial history of Trenton has left behind blighted, underutilized, and contaminated or perceived-to-be-contaminated land throughout the city. To a large degree, these properties are located along water routes and rail corridors that served the city’s transportation needs in the 1800’s and 1900’s. This aging industrial building stock and the associated residential development was constructed during a period of widespread lead-based paint and asbestos building material usage, both of which have been shown to have significant negative health effects on children and adults. The aging of these structures frequently leads to the release of these contaminants within the building and degrades indoor air quality.
Moreover, one of the major issues that were raised throughout the process (including Phase 1 - Visioning) was the pervasiveness of litter and trash in Trenton along with issues with solid waste management and illegal dumping. This not only projects an image of Trenton as being dirty and not worthy of respect, but also poses health risks to residents and contributes to contamination of rivers and natural environments.
As the City continues to confront these problems, many residents are also faced with a lack of open space and limited access to healthy food. The Trenton Community Health Needs Assessment Report noted that only 34 percent of Trenton children meet U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended exercise guidelines of 60 minutes of activity per day. With only three true supermarkets in the city, and an incredibly high number of limited food service restaurants (51 percent of outlets) and bodegas (29 percent), Trenton has been identified by the Trenton Health Team
as a food desert that would have to triple its number of supermarkets to adequately serve its residents (as of 2013). Combined, these conditions pose an acute risk to residents and must be addressed to create a safe environment for people to live and work.
The City and community partners have already undertaken numerous efforts in many areas of the City to address these issues. Community organizations and the City have developed lead paint and weatherization strategies with the potential to further reduce public exposure if properly funded. In addition, Open Space initiatives such as community gardens and a combination of city, county and state parks and trails allow some residents and visitors to the City to experience the health benefits of recreational spaces.
The City’s Brownfield Program has been addressing contaminated site issues for over 20 years across the City. This program has brought millions of dollars into Trenton, and the Brownfield Program’s success has been used to leverage funding for the redevelopment of key project sites. As such, redevelopment of brownfield sites has been a catalyst for bringing new jobs and tax revenues into the city. Specifically, the Assunpink Park Project (also known as the Assunpink Greenway Project) has demonstrated that the focused initiatives can serve both the open space and brownfield redevelopment needs of the City and should continue to be a focal point for identifying redevelopment opportunities.
The Combined Sewer System (CSS) currently operates in an area of approximately 500 acres in the Chambersburg area. The system was fitted with a twenty (20) million-gallon detention basin in 1980 to minimize overflows from this area. In general, untreated CSS are known to cause serious water pollution problems. When large volumes of water enter the system from major rain events, the system can overflow and spill directly into water bodies (rivers and streams). Trenton’s detention basin helps alleviate potential water pollution by storing stormwater excess flow in order to protect from the mixture of sewer and stormwater overflow into our water bodies.
One Combines Sewer Outfall (CSO) is present within the City. It was equipped with a treatment system in the 1980’s and later equipped with monitoring instruments. Although the outfall is in compliance with all regulatory requirements, a comprehensive approach that may include green infrastructure will provide increased assurance of good local surface water quality, and alleviate any risks to human and ecologic health. Although the City has historically taken steps to reduce discharges from its CSS substantially, the goal should be for “zero potential for discharges.”
The City is in need of a comprehensive strategy to create a safe environment for its residents. Although much of the work is detailed in this Report, initiatives identified in other Topic Reports will contribute to this effort as well. For example, a distressed environment that perpetuates safety and crime issues, lack of safety in neighborhoods and public spaces, as well as poor pedestrian and bicycle safety all reduce residents’ ability to access and enjoy the natural environment. Therefore, the City must take a comprehensive approach to environmental planning in conjunction with developing Trenton250’s Public Safety Report.