NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ –The Borough Council approved an ordinance and a resolution at last night’s meeting, (Monday, Nov. 26) which will lead to a joint operation with the City of Summit to provide emergency dispatch services for both towns.
Borough Administrator Doug Marvin said Summit’s Common Council is expected to approve an identical ordinance and resolution at its December 4 meeting which will complete the legal requirements for the shared emergency service.
But don’t expect any changes soon. Mr. Marvin said that after Summit’s approval the two towns will jointly develop implementation plans including architectural renderings for the Shared Dispatch Center which will be located in the Municipal Center in New Providence.
“There are still a number of pieces that need to be completed,” Mr. Marvin said. He said the new center could be up and running in 12 to 18 months.
In addition to possible operational savings, one of the driving forces behind the merger is a $1.6 million federal grant to replace aging equipment with state-of-the-art technology.
The grant, Mr. Marvin said, cannot be used for construction so each community will share equally in an expected $700,000 expense for the new center.
The Shared Dispatch Center will handle all 911 emergency dispatch services for police, fire and EMS in both communities. In addition, on a fee basis, the center will also process emergency calls for the Millburn Fire Department.
Not everyone on the Borough Council supported the ordinance and resolution. Councilman James Cucco voted “no” on both actions explaining that he believed the center will cost more than expected, “I don’t think New Providence will see any savings,” Mr. Cucco added.
Taking an opposite point-of-view, Mayor J. Brooke Hern said he was optimistic and that doing nothing was not an option. “We had to do something to improve our facility and provide better service to our community,” the mayor said.
Council President Michael Gennaro said the numbers show a slight decrease in costs over time. “It’ll provide New Providence with a first class service with stepped-up technology,” he added.
According to Councilman Dr. Bob Robinson, borough officials have been studying the issue for over three years and engaged various entities in discussions including Union and Morris counties.
Dr. Robinson said he had leaned toward being a “customer” of the Morris County Dispatch System but was now fully supportive of the Shared Dispatch Service Center.
In other action, the council approved two resolutions totaling about $272,000 to begin construction on improvements to Hillview Field which will include artificial turf.
Also, ever since the borough passed legislation to approve four liquor consumption licenses, the buzz around town was that Murray Hill Inn would be a prime candidate for entering a bid. That notion was officially dispelled last night when Mayor Hern said the motel notified the borough it would not submit a bid for the initial license saying it did not fit into their “business plan.”
The mayor said there has been substantial interest from other companies in bidding for a license which is expected to be granted in February.