From the Record:
Tainted soil found at West Brook Middle School months ago has some Paramus homeowners concerned that their property values will drop.
So far, there’s no hard evidence that prices in the neighborhood around West Brook have dipped in response to the pesticide contamination. But those who predict a downswing feel sure that the school district’s tarnished reputation for covering up the contamination can mean only one thing for property owners.
“When people hear stories like that, let’s face it, they’re concerned,” said Gary Siramarco, whose twin daughters attend West Brook. “It’s going to affect property values.”
The public first learned of tainted soil at West Brook in May, about four months after environmental consultant Melick-Tully and Associates alerted school officials to pesticides in the soil at levels 39 times state safety guidelines.
Richard Curran, an independent real estate appraiser, said concerns over property values there are by no means unjustified.
“Perceptions are what create value,” he said. “Is that going to hurt it? Most likely.”
As a real estate appraiser, Curran’s job is to value property based on past sales, not on speculation. He said he does not have recent sales figures on homes in the neighborhood around West Brook, and thus could not make any definitive judgments on property values there.
“We can only compare to the past, not project to the future,” he said. “There’s no way to really tell until someone tries to [sell].”
Paramus Councilman Richard LaBarbiera said he was unaware of any impact on property values. “I don’t know how anybody could draw such a conclusion after such a short period of time,” he said.
He still doesn’t think it will affect people’s perceptions of the town.
“I trust that Paramus will remain a very desirable community in the years to come,” he said.
But the fears remain. Michael Evangel is concerned that property values throughout Paramus will be adversely affected.
“We need to bring back the town’s reputation,” she said. “Everybody’s fearful property values will plummet.”