In a recent article and letter to the editor about Bergen County’s relocation of our Public Works facility to Paramus with the existing Mosquito Control Division, readers may have gotten the mistaken impression that borough officials were unaware of the details of the county plans to use existing county-owned land for a new public works center. I want to assure the residents of Paramus that Mayor Rich LaBarbiera and his administration were not only aware of the plans, but that those plans were submitted to Paramus officials for review and comment over a period of three years beginning in 2011.
Bergen County government under the direction of County Executive Kathleen Donovan has been consolidating various departments and facilities throughout the last 3 years to save taxpayer dollars and one of the top priorities was to move the county DPW out of an inefficient facility in Hackensack to a more central, cost effective location in Paramus. The county has operated its mosquito control division on the massive amount of land off of Farview Avenue for decades. We even allow the Borough of Paramus to operate their shade tree mulching facility there for free. We evaluated that site and decided to remove old and dilapidated storage garages along with the debris that had accumulated on the tract over the years and erect a new 40,000 square-foot public works garage and mechanic shop, and a salt storage shed at the location.
In 2011 county officials, including myself, contacted the mayor and members of his administration about our plans and gave them conceptual drawings of the improvements we planned to make to the site. We attended an open forum at the life safety facility in Paramus where the mayor invited residents from around the project site. In 2012 we refined the plans and again met with borough officials seeking their input. And in September 2012 the county submitted a full set of plans to the mayor, the borough engineer and the construction department. Borough officials have been well informed every step of the way on this project and the county has agreed to take into consideration the concerns of the people living on nearby Jerome Avenue.
To accommodate the residents’ concerns about traffic in and out of the DPW site, the county agreed to build a separate service road to handle all current county employees and an additional 40 workers who will report to their new job location. After clearing out dead and damaged trees from Super Storm Sandy, the county will replant the area with a natural buffer of evergreens and trees to shield residents from the DPW center.
Once completed the new DPW site will better serve the entire county and all taxpayers will benefit from the sale of the old DPW center in Hackensack, which will fetch several million dollars and be returned to the tax rolls.
In closing, County officials met with the Paramus Mayor and administration along with a resident representative on Tuesday, May 6th. All of the above details were described and discussed. Paramus officials including Mayor LaBarbiera, Administrator D’Arco and Borough Attorney Paul Kaufman said they were satisfied with our efforts and we have an open dialogue to continue improving the property with foliage as the project completion nears.
Joseph Crifasi, Director
Bergen County Public Works
and General Services