Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Monday, April 09, 2012

Close Quarters

When I heard about the fire in Wanaque on the radio this morning, I didn’t even have to listen further to know which houses the report was about. I knew. I knew exactly the spot on Ringwood Avenue where the fire happened.

The news said six families were made homeless. The word in our little haven of small towns was that the families moved there when they were evicted from their homes because they couldn’t pay their mortgages, not even at the ridiculous rate of almost non-interest that homeowners are paying.

The families have been there awhile. Anyone who frequented the local CVS knew they were they’d been there awhile, crowded into a row of wooden-framed, Victorian-era houses. One must live where one can. I took a ride up Ringwood Avenue to confirm my suspicions. Yes; those were the houses. Since the pre-dawn fire, the middle house was a shambles and the owners of the tavern next door were evacuating their supplies.

The families were sitting in a parking lot across the street. From the looks of things, they had nothing but the shirts on their backs, and probably whatever the neighbors could give them. I drove back down the road to the local Stop & Shop to pick up some sundries I hadn’t time to buy yesterday. I also bought some bread, some peanut and jelly, a couple of gallons of water, some soda, and some juice for the kids and brought it back to them. They were just on their way to some new temporary quarters.

I couldn’t help wondering if this won’t be the fate of many families in Pompton Lakes, Bloomingdale, Riverdale, and other towns the Agenda 21 people have their hooks into? Already, a developer has built condos in the most flooded portion of Pompton Lakes. And now that the damage is done, the town of Bloomingdale is begging the EPA to restore the upstream dams that flow through that town.

Yes, rebuild the dams now that the homeowners have been flooded out of their homes. Pompton Lakes got the bad news that if they condemned “The Plume” that no one would be allowed to build on it again. But if some well-financed developer comes along with plans to build a light industrial park and ever more condos, that the town will not say nay to those homeowners who want to sell.

Residents of Pompton Lakes should take that short ride up Ringwood Avenue and look at the mess across the street from the CVS. That’s our town’s future. That’s your future. You might sneer at those poor people because they weren’t “from around here”. But that could very well be you someday, out in the street. That’s one of the hazards of densely populated areas. This is one of the reasons why people in the suburbs don’t want to live on top of one another.

Don’t think for a minute that the developers will be inclined to be more careful than they have ever been. Think when the old Acme supermarket mall was built – and when it burned down in 1997. Some of us still remember watching as it burned and the terrible stench that lingered for months. The builders knew that kind of domed roof mall was dangerous and that there were no firewalls between the units in the roof. Once the fire got going, it took about one minute for the flames to go from one end of the mall to the other.

The row houses smell pretty much the same as the old Acme market did. They smell of rot – of the Community Reinvestment Act, the banking scandals, TARP, Stimulus, and Agenda 21.

A note to all our neighbors on another matter, of no less importance. We’re in a very dry spell right now (although the Wanaque Reservoir is full). We don’t know yet how this fire started. However, according to the news reports, New Jersey is already on fire; this is no time to be light up the barbecue.

Pray for the families made homeless in Wanaque this morning.


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