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 By William E. Cleary Sr.


The old NJ Zinc property at the foot of Water Street is being cleared for the waste to compost facility. Old timers will remember this property being called "The Desert". The area has been home to deer and pheasants for decades.

 (CNBNEWS.NET)GLOUCESTER CITY NJ—Construction crews have started to clear the site for the Organic Diversion’s food waste to energy facility that will be built on 9.5 acres in Gloucester City’s Southport. Bulldozers,  which could be seen on the other side of the cyclone fence on Saturday, have cleared off much of the ground where the $30 million, 110,000 square foot facility will be located. The vacant property, (known to Old Timers as “The Desert”) was once home to New Jersey Zinc which was owned by Gulf and Western. 

A closer look at the two signs that hang from the fence outside the property (photo credit


The project was first announced in December 2010. The organics recycling facility will accept 60,000 tons annually of organic material [source-separated food waste, yard waste, and brush] for processing into renewable energy and compost.  The facility will generate approximately two megawatts of renewable energy and 60,000 cubic yards of high-quality compost and will operate during normal business hours five and a half days per week. 

In December 2013 the City announced in a PR/Newswire press release that the Organic Diversion facility is the first of several planned projects in the 145 acre Southport Redevelopment Area (SRA). The SRA is being redeveloped by Southport Renewal, LLC with engineering support from T&M Associates and marketed by Prime Site Properties. 

"This is a great day and it could not come at a better time of year with the holidays approaching," said Mayor William James of Gloucester City.  Having Organic Diversion start on the construction of its renewable energy facility in Gloucester City signals the beginning of a new era of development, public access to our water front, and tax ratables to help bring new revenue and business opportunities to our great City," concluded the Mayor in his remarks. A formal ribbon cutting will take place sometime early in the New Year.

"It's been a long road and the elected and appointed officials both here in Gloucester City and neighboring Brooklawn, at the County, and State and Federal levels have all been incredible in helping to make all this happen.  The Gloucester City Business Association and the Gloucester City Economic Development Corporation were extremely supportive as well," said Rocco D'Antonio, Organic Diversion's President.  "This is the first of many steps to come to help see this area back to its full potential – both environmentally and economically."


The City owned Harshaw/Amspec property is being used as a staging yard to store equipment for Public Service Gas & Electric SRP construction (photo credit

 Nearby at 751 Water Street, a large amount of material for PSE&G's Southern Reinfrocement Project (SRP)is being stored by Shelby Mechanical, a subcontractor of PSE&G on the ground

The sign at the entrance to the staging yard (photo credit

that once housed the Harshaw/Amspec chemical factory. The taxpayers of Gloucester City purchased those 22 acres in 2009 for $5 million.

The *Southern Reinforcement Project also known as SRP will add 230,000-volt overhead and underground transmission circuits in Southern New Jersey to maintain electric system reliability for customers throughout the region.

We asked City Solicitor John Kearney if the city is being reimbursed by Shelby for allowing the company to store the equipment on city property? We also asked him about a rumor we have been hearing with regards to the old GAF property which located at the intersection of Water and Charles Streets. To sum up the rumor, a company wants to use that ground to build modular homes. They would employ 250 people.


Kearney said, “There is an agreement between the City and Shelby Mechanical where Shelby leases a portion of Amspec, pays rent and did some work on the site. The City is aware that GAF is in discussions with a modular home builder for the sale of a portion of GAF's property. The builder does propose a plant which would employ 265 people. This is very early in a complicated process. Once the deal with GAF is in place I expect there will be many discussions with the builder as to how the City can assist in the project. 

“The aim of the administration has been to get Southport redeveloped despite enduring the worst economic crisis since 1929 and dealing with a monstrous environmental situation. Despite those realities the City has made great headway. We now fully understand the environmental conditions and have approved plans on how to fix those problems so the land can be used again. We are cautiously optimistic that the deal can be done with GAF and we can move on to the second new project for Southport.”