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BURLINGTON, NJ-Gov. James McGreevey used the tainted, but eminently reusable former Burlington Mart site in this South Jersey city as a backdrop for his signing of a bill that will free up $40 million to replenish the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund. The fund provides loans and grants to municipalities and private companies for brownfields remediation.

“Places like Burlington Mart were once sources of jobs and opportunity, but are now nothing more than contaminated abandoned properties,” McGreevey said at the signing. “With this new law, we are not only bringing brownfield sites back to life, we are also steering new development away from open space.”

His comments, of course, re-echo his administration’s ongoing, self-described “smart growth” campaign aimed at redirecting development away from open spaces and suburban locations and into more urbanized places. The redevelopment of brownfields is a centerpiece of that effort.

The Burlington Mart site itself is a prime candidate for re-use. Used for such industrial purposes as textile and fiberglass manufacturing and chrome plating from early in the 20th century through 1980, it was operated as a retail center until gutted by fire in 1994. Local officials used a HDSRF grant to do a site investigation in 1998, a process that uncovered such contaminants as cleaning solvents, fuel oils and metals.

City officials say they will apply for a second HDSRF grant to do a more thorough study before completing remediation work. The site has been re-zoned for commercial uses, including residential and mixed uses, in anticipation of redevelopment.

The HDSRF is jointly administered by the New Jersey DEP and the state’s EDA.

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