October 30, 2013 at 5:22 PM
LIVINGSTON, NJ – The Livingston Township Council had a 3-2 vote on Monday evening in favor of passing resolution R-13-214 authorizing a contract with Arterial, LLC to develop the Memorial Park Master Plan.
The Township of Livingston issued a request for proposal on March 14 of this year to solicit proposals from firms that could provide professional services for developing master plans. On April 3, nine proposals were received and three were invited to give formal presentations to the council on July 9. The top three firms included Arterial LLC, Hatch Mott MacDonald, and Maser Consulting, with Arterial making the final cut to be voted on as a resolution.
While all agreed that Arterial gave the most stellar presentation, Councilmembers Michael Silverman and Deborah Shapiro were not quite ready to spend the quoted $62,180 on the plan.
"I’ve gone back and forth on this a number of different times and Arterial did have the best proposal with the most number of options to expand the usage and inclusion of the community in making decisions around Memorial Park,” said Silverman. “I’m just not ready to outlay nearly $70,000 for, what was called ‘a map,’ I do believe that it is more than just a map. I would hope to see this in the future but right now I vote no.”
“This was a plan that was proposed back in 2008. There is a reason that (discussion) has been continued, year after year and actually not executed--because there is a limit to how much prior councils have wanted to pick the pockets of the people in town,” said Shapiro. “This has been an incredibly difficult tax year… I am in favor of developing a master plan for all of these public spaces that we have in the center of town, for which those citizens do use, but we’ve already allocated additional funds for other services this year.” Shapiro gave the example of how the town already invested approximately $60,000 into the new shuttle system. “There is a time and a place. I don’t think it’s the time.”
Remaining Councilmembers Michael Reiber and Al Anthony, along with Mayor Rudy Fernandez voted in favor of the contract with Arterial, expressing that the value of the project would outweigh its cost.
“I had a change of heart because enough people came up to me and said that it’s going to be a ‘bring the town together’ kind of project,” explained Reiber. “This is a blue print of something that we can do in increments and it’s going to be an inclusive project. Every committee and every resident will be able to have input.” Reiber also pointed out that approximately 80 percent of the town uses the oval. “Everyone is using it so everyone will benefit.”
Similarly to Reiber, Anthony focused on, what he thought would be, a long term community value. “I think this is more than just a map. We’ve looked at many proposals and clearly this was the best, it’s an opportunity to tie in all of Memorial Park and possibly tie in the back part of it and make it even friendlier for the township to use.”
Finally Fernandez added thoughts about how implementing the plan would add to the property value of the township. “We want that when people drive through Livingston they want to move here--to make decisions that make people continue to invest in the township and have people move to the township. We don’t have a train station so we are competing with neighboring towns that do.”
Fernandez also admitted that while the council did have lower cost options they felt that they weren’t going to give them a good product and “therefore, it would have been a waste of money.”