March 24, 2014 at 9:15 PM
NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – After an almost eight-year absence, the North Plainfield Borough Council returned home to its chambers in Borough Hall, ending its extended exile to the town’s community center. The meeting began with the traditional flag salute, a moment of silence for fallen American soldiers, a mayoral proclamation, and residents asking for help with various issues around town.
The journey to a renovated Council Chambers began in 2002 when the Council first passed a bond issue to renovate Borough Hall, fully expecting to have their own home restored within a few years. But renovating a century old building always comes with unexpected problems, and the Council Chambers on the second floor experienced more than other areas of the building.
“We discovered significant issues with the second floor structure,” said David Hollod, the Borough Administrator. “Before we could restore the Council chambers we had to do major repointing of the mortar and brick, replace the roof and complete other projects not in the original renovation plans.”
The Council Chamber opening represents the last major part of the Borough Hall renovation, with only a few minor add-on projects including conference rooms and communications systems projects remaining.
Council President Doug Singleterry called on Mayor Michael Giordano to present Somerset County Volunteer Services Coordinator Bill Crosby with a proclamation recognizing National Service Recognition Day.
Ten years ago, Council members would duck pieces of ceiling falling on their heads, and the public often couldn’t understand basic statements through the ceiling speakers. The ceiling echoed, sometimes revealing private conversations and other times muting anything in the room when too many people spoke at once.
But tonight’s meeting was clear and crisp, with clear audio throughout the room allowing the public to follow the course of the meeting. Borough residents Frank D’Amore and Brian Benson both spoke during the public session, and were heard by the Council and the audience.
D'Amore noted that, when he was a borough police officer, he spent a lot of time in the chamber when it hosted the municipal court. "I'm very glad to be back in this chamber," said D'Amore. "It's never looked so good."
“The staff’s been in the renovated Borough Hall for three years, but it took time for the chambers where the Planning Board, Board of Adjustment and Council meet to finally be done,” said Mayor Michael Giordano. “I was a Council member the last time we met in this room, and it’s good to be back.”
Previously the Municipal Court also met in these chambers, but now the shared services agreement with the Borough of Watchung means those meetings are held in their town.