Bids Have Gone Out for New Firehouse After a Year’s Delay for State Approval

22 August, 1990 (~estimated)

Bids Have Gone Out for New Firehouse After a Year’s Delay for State Approval

Bids have gone out for the new firehouse On Witherspoon Street and are due back next week. A bid could be awarded at the end of September, one year after Township Committee and Borough Council met in joint session to go over the architect’s final plans and cost estimates.

At the time it was estimated that the firehouse could be completed by November 30, 1990, if it were to be bid before final approval of construction documents were received from the State Department of Community Affairs (DCA), or by January, 1991, if the more prudent approach was taken of waiting to go out to bid after final approval. It was hoped that DCA approval would be forthcoming by last February and construction begun by mid-March.

According to Borough Councilman and Fire Commissioner Mark Freda, the delay has been in trying to satisfy DCA and reserve differences between the state and the architects Fulmer & Wolfe over interpretation of code requirements. “There were a lot of problems, and it took a lot of explaining,” Mr. Freda says. But he adds that he feels very different about the firehouse now that bids have gone out than he did a year ego when he add the rest of the Fire Department weren’t sure whether the project would ever get started.

A municipality can’t accept bids unless the money is available to pay for it, so Township Committee took the next step in introducing an ordinance appropriating $1,280,000 in bonds for its share of the $2 million project. Borough Council had taken this step earlier by appropriating $720,000 toward the cost.

An agreement is being formalized between the two municipalities setting forth how the cost and responsibilities, for the firehouse will be shared, and how the municipalities will be reimbursed when the Chambers Street Firehouse is sold to defray the cost of construction. This agreement will be based on letters between Township Mayor Kate Litvack and Mr. Freda and a memorandum of understanding between the two municipal administrators.

According to this correspondence, up to $1.3 million of the proceeds of the sale of the Chambers Street firehouse would go to pay the cost of constructing the new fire-house. The $1.3 million figure was the architect’s, estimate at house would cost.

Any proceeds above $1.3 million would be placed in a fund to finance future capital needs of the Fire Department, with the understanding that the funds would be jointly shared on a rateable basis. It is also understood that should the cost of the new firehouse exceed the proceeds of the sale of the Chambers Street firehouse, these costs would be shared on a rateable basis.

Construction cost has been estimated at $1.4 to $1.6 million, depending on what options are included, with “soft costs” bringing the total to $2 million. Allowing a month to look over the bids and to award a contractor to be ready to be at the site, Mr. Freda thinks it is “very iffy” as to whether the contractor would get the foundations in this fall. “It might be next spring,” he says.

“But personally I am glad to see it at this stage where its own momentum will carry it along. A year ago we were still anxious as to whether it would occur.”

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