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Oral history interview with Salvatore A. Boccuti

  • 2014-Jan-06

Salvatore A. Boccuti grew up in Ambler, Pennsylvania. His father was a tailor, and his mother became a court crier in Montgomery County. He practiced accounting for a number of years but sold his practice to become an aerial photographer; his pictures of BoRit Asbestos Area are found on the Ambler community advisory group's website. As a child he played on the White Mountains of Ambler and played baseball on the field that preceded the post office building. On St. Francis Day, he watched fireworks shot from the piles. He has not contracted any asbestos-caused diseases, and feels he would have by now if he were going to. Boccuti notes Sharon McCormick's fight against a developer who proposed to build a seventeen-story high-rise on what is now the BoRit Asbestos Area. Sharon's public commitment helped to inspire him and when the CAG was formed Boccuti wanted to help. He was a co-chair of the CAG and has served on several of the work groups, currently the rules group. He describes some of the CAG's organization and explains the communication procedures between the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the citizens of the several municipal entities involved. Boccuti discusses remediation at the BoRit site, regretting that the asbestos will not be removed entirely or its chemical structure altered. He believes that it will be capped as the White Mountains were, and that the site will also remain useless for development. He is hopeful that the reservoir, currently being drained, will be cleaned up and refilled to be used as a waterfowl preserve. Boccuti points to the long latency period for asbestos-caused disease, and says that those who have not yet sickened are not likely to do so now. Nightlife is returning; housing is sold before fully built; good restaurants are increasing. Revitalization brings other concerns, namely road structure and parking, but Boccuti is not concerned about present contamination. He does say that the EPA does not do air testing, which causes worry about capped asbestos becoming airborne in the future. He would like to see BoRit become a mixed-use area, but is not optimistic; he says the EPA will do what it wants. When asked what lessons Ambler might provide for other communities, he stresses the importance of good and strong leadership; continual oversight by citizens; and in-depth knowledge. He loves Ambler, which he characterizes as a very nice and safe town, and he hopes for continued growth.

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