Neglia Engineering, the municipality’s engineering firm, was awarded three contracts in resolutions 123-17 through 125-17 at the April 6th Mayor & Council meeting for a total of $220,280. Two of the contracts were for surveying and design engineering services for a generator at the Casano Center (123-17) and improvements to Michael Mauri Park (125-17). The most expensive contract at $200,000 (124-17) was for conducting and preparing a feasibility analysis report on the options available to the borough to address an issue with storm sewer discharging into Elizabeth’s sanitary sewer.
“This has been kicked around over the last 18 months,” stated Tom Salfaro, the representative from Neglia Engineering, “Unfortunately, the borough is really a victim of circumstances in this situation. It was determined that a bulk of our storm sewer is conveyed and discharges into the City of Elizabeth’s sanitary sewer . . . Ultimately, during wet weather events, big storms, rain events, the lines in Elizabeth overflow into a downstream receiving water body . . . The government is cracking down and wants to minimize the amount of CSOs – Combined Sewer Overflows – in all the municipalities which have them.”
Mr. Salfaro went on to explain that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) will begin to levy fines on municipality’s that do not minimize CSOs, which, at this point, includes Roselle Park. The state is mandating the borough to do a planning analysis and a hydraulic study to see if Roselle Park can minimize its storm sewer contribution into the sanitary sewer. To help with that, the municipality will be using a camera truck it purchased last year to help conduct the analysis.
The borough engineer went on to explain to the public, “Just so you know, [the] contract is not only doing a hydraulic feasibility study of the borough. There has to be a cost-benefit analysis prepared because we need to come up with concepts and alternate designs to potentially run a brand new discharge ourselves into the Elizabeth River or some other water body. It could be minimizing flow into Elizabeth by building a pump station and pumping it somewhere else. It could be a do-nothing option and we just wind up paying fines or maybe we set up a service fee each year with the City of Elizabeth. There’s going to be analysis and feasibility study with recommended alternatives and a cost tag associated with those concepts.”
According to Mr. Salfaro, the analysis needs to be completed first and this contract is only for that report, not to design any potential improvement. The analysis will determine if there is a viable improvement to remove Roselle Park from the contributing flow within Elizabeth. He added, “There might not be an improvement that’s financially feasible for this borough. I don’t want to throw numbers around [but] it could be astronomical.”
Mayor Carl Hokanson described the aforementioned storm sewer line as being between 24 and 26 feet underground and running along East Grant Avenue then turning south on Galloping Hill Road and finally turning east on Fernwood Avenue in Elizabeth. The mayor added that the problem has been known since around the 1980s but became a serious issue a couple of years ago. Elizabeth conducted a study and discovered that Roselle Park’s stormwater was going into their sanitary sewer and causing flooding. It is estimated that the cost to address the issue in total could range from between $5,000,000 to $8,000,000.
The mayor concluded by stating that when he was on the Joint Meeting of Essex & Union Counties (JMEUC), he was in talks with the NJDEP to see if the agency could forego fines, possibly in the hundreds of thousands, and instead have those funds put towards studies and potential construction costs.
Mr. Salfaro from Neglia Engineering provided a final overview of the issue, “We haven’t figured it out or calculated it yet but we’re fairly [certain] that 25% to 35% of the storm sewer overflow or storm sewer conveyance flow from this borough goes into the City of Elizabeth, at a minimum 25%. [The] storm sewer line’s size is 42 inches in diameter. It’s a big pipe.”
The contract for the Casano Center generator (123-17) is budgeted at $15,280. Mr. Salfaro stated that after Hurricane Sandy, the Roselle Park Office of Emergency Management (OEM) coordinators were able to secure a FEMA grant of around $100,000 to sponsor a natural gas generator to be installed at the Casano Center. It was not stated if the cost for Neglia’s services were to be taken from the grant.
No specifics were given for improvements to Michael Mauri Park project which was set at $5,000.
Neglia Engineering has been the municipal engineering firm for years. This year, their winning bid was $21,000 (not including fees to be paid for additional engineering services).