The issue of providing senior housing to comply with COAH (Coalition On Affordable Housing) regulations was resolved by having the municipality propose senior housing at the current location of the DPW yard. The yard was then to move to the area at the corner of Seaton and Laurel Avenues. All this started almost eight years ago with a groundbreaking ceremony (link).
The status of all of this is now uncertain because at the October 4th municipal meeting, the governing body took formal steps regarding the Department of Public Works (DPW) yard and proposed senior housing.
Resolution 301-18 rejected all bids for the new DPW yard and authorized a re-bid for the already budgeted $2.6 million project. This money has already been taken from taxpayers in previous budgets and currently, interest is being paid on a building that has not even had a blueprint prepared.
Resident Dave Robertson asked about the impact to the project of building a new site since the bids have been rejected during the public comment portion of the October 18th meeting. He added, “It seems like every time we come up with something on this DPW project, we take one step forward and immediately take three steps back.”
Mayor Carl Hokanson responded, “Right now there is no timeframe because due to the circumstances, if the senior citizens [housing] was going to start tomorrow then there would definitely be a time frame but since there’s no movement on either one right now we’re in the process of going out to rebid again.”
This is, at least, the second time bids have been rejected for the DPW yard (link).
The other part of the problem was remediation that was ordered to be started in May at the proposed area of the senior housing, which is the current site of the DPW yard on West Webster Avenue across the street from the Roselle Park High School athletic field. Back in May, remediation was ordered to be done on any contamination left from the two fuel tanks – one being a 1,000-gallon tank and the other a 2,000-gallon tank – that were removed over two decades ago (link).
Resolution 303-18 terminated the contract with Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc. for LSRP (Licensed Site Remediation Professional) services at the proposed senior housing complex.
Mr. Robertson asked if this would negatively impact the borough with the New Jersey Department of Environment Protection (NJDEP); the agency was the oversight agency for the project.
Borough Clerk Andrew Casais stated, “The DEP is aware of the actions pending before the governing body. One of the things that prompted Resolution 303-18 is the work that Langan Engineering was doing was funded by a grant. That grant has – of what was $180,00 grant – a little less than $2,000 left in it. We have no funding for them to continue working and they also haven’t delivered on all their work products, so we believe it’s in the best interest to pursue a new LSRP for that property in coordination with the DEP.”
Mr. Casais further explained that in the initial scope of work that was approved when the municipality first received the HDSRF (Hazardous Discharge Remediation Fund) grant, a part of the contingency for the grant was having an LSRP. It was understood that there would be no cost borne by the local taxpayers and that it would be completely funded by Domus Corporation.
The borough clerk remarked, “The funds left will not complete the scope of work, so we’re at the point where we feel that Langan has not delivered on the scope of work. They’ve delivered certain things, but they’re just not complete. They have their assertions. The DEP has their assertions, and the borough has their feelings about the whole situation, and at this point, I believe it is the sentiment of the governing body to terminate the contract and seek a new LSRP.”
It was stated that the work will have to be performed by another firm. Mr. Casais added, “It’ll come out of borough funds or we’ll seek grant funding elsewhere.”
With all these new issues, Mayor Hokanson stated, “We’re still in the process of trying to look to see if we can come up with another idea and another vendor . . . Senior citizen [housing] project has not been taken off the drawing board.”