21 Aug 2014
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Livingston Council Approves Capital Improvements

Panel approves large bonds for road, building improvements, discusses purchasing Hillside Avenue home.

Livingston Council Approves Capital Improvements

The Livingston Township Council approved bonds for several large infrastructure projects throughout the township at Monday's meeting.

The biggest appropriation was $8.45 million for several capital improvements projects, including:

• resurfacing and repairing several township roads.

• an environmental study and remediation for Bear Brook Dam.

• turnout gear for the fire department.

• an emergency generator for the Senior Community Center.

• construction of a turf field on Madonna Drive.

• improvements for the Monmouth Court Recreation Building, which houses the alternative high school. Township Manager Michele Meade said the repairs will be divided between the township and board of education, noting the work includes repairs to the gym, upstairs classrooms, boiler, electrical work and the downstairs entry and elevator to become disability-accessible.

 • improvements to the Heritage School tennis court.

• police supplies, which include an armory storage system, narrow-banding system, police vehicle equipment and bullet-proof vests.

• various technology equipment and a van for technology workers.

• improvements to the library wheelchair ramp, roof, dome, boiler, and heating ventilation and air conditioning units. 

• equipment for the department of public works, including dump trucks, a pick-up truck with a plow, street signs, tailgates, vehicle bodies and a turf tender. 

• purchasing a home at 236 Hillside Ave. to acquire the backyard and connect the land to expand a township park. 

The capital improvements were approved by a 4-1 vote, with only Councilwoman Deborah Shapiro voting against it

Shapiro said she supported most of the projects, but she had some concerns about a few items given the township's debt and the weak economy.

She thought the township could hold off on purchasing the emergency generator, improving the Monmouth Court building, constructing the Madonna Drive field, purchasing the van for technology workers and buying the Hillside Avenue home.

Shapiro said she "was not anxious to be in the real estate business" regarding the Hillside home purchase, and suggested having technology workers use other township vehicles, or possibly use their own vehicles and be reimbursed for mileage. 

Mayor Stephen Santola said all of the improvements are important and if some of the larger projects do not move forward — such as the Monmouth Court building improvements — the money for the work will not be bonded. 

Councilmen Michael Rieber and Gary Schneiderman also said they thought all projects were important. They noted the Madonna Drive turf field would be used by hundreds of students and adults, and the councilmen said they would approach county officials, private investors and sports groups to help with fund raising and that could help lower the cost of the project. 

Santola also said acquiring the Hillside Avenue home would be an important addition to the township's Hillside Avenue park.

The mayor said the large backyard would be subdivided and a trail could be added to the park. The home itself would be put back on the market. 

Livingston resident Bernard Searle spoke about the proposed capital improvements, saying the improvements to the Monmouth Court building should have been done ages ago and he thought getting an emergency generator for the community center was a good idea, but he thought switching the current generator from gas to electricity would be more cost-effective.

Searle also voiced disapproval for purchasing the Hillside Avenue home.

Other actions by the township council included:

• approving $250,000 for improvements to the sewer system, which include upgrades to the water pollution control facility, replacement of a 500-gallon storage tank, improvements to the bacteria digesters and replacement of a blower. 

• approving a $1.8-million bond to improve the water utility system, which includes work on interconnection vaults, modifications to two well treatment systems, improvements to the Chetwynd water tank, the water distribution system, renovation of another well and getting a heated asphalt box.

• establishing a cap bank for the 2012 budget so the final appropriation will be 3.5 percent over the 2011 budget, or $1,018,685.   

• awarding a $2,078,614 contract to S. Brothers General Contractors for street milling and paving.

• approving $77,500 in emergency appropriations for gas and oil, worker's compensation and the police department. 

• presenting a proposed change to the township ordinance to limit garage sales to two times per year and to last "no more than three consecutive calendar days."

People who hold garage sales would have to notify the township building department and signs can only be posted one day ahead of the sale and have to be removed after the sale or face a $25 fine per sign.

Santola and Shapiro said the change was intended to address a resident's complaint about serial garage sales in the neighborhood and old garage sale signs.

Santola said the new ordinance is not intended to raise money for the township or to prohibit garage sales.

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