BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Bernards Township officials have forged a shared services agreement with neighboring Far Hills to jointly apply for a $280,000 state grant to repave a portion of Douglas Road. The road leading off Schley Mountain Road is split evenly down the middle by the border of the two municipalities.

One side is smoother than the other

In recent years, Bernards Township officials had decided to scrap a longstanding agreement to maintain the road because Far Hills, with far fewer residents, would only be paying far less than half of the share of the cost of road improvements.

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As a result, the road quality on the Far Hills side of the street has deteriorated to worse condition than the pavement surface in Bernards Township.

New agreement between towns

But now, the governing bodies for both municipalities have agreed to jointly file for a state transportation grant of $280,000 that Bernards officials should cover the cost of repaving the portion of Douglas Road between Schley Mountain Road and Douglas Road.

The Bernards Township Committee approved the joint application last week after hearing that the Far Hills Borough Council already voted to move ahead in seeking the state funding.

Bernards Township Administrator Bruce McArthur said that Bernards Township's engineering department will prepare the plans and application for the project.

However, McArthur assured members of the Bernards Township Committee that the Far Hills Borough Council had agreed to pick up half of the cost of any part of actual construction that the grant, if received, wouldn't cover. 

There is no guarantee the state will award the grant, McArthur said. However, he added that the state likely would look more favorably on a grant application that would benefit two towns. The state also generally encourages shared services agreements between municipalities.

The plan is to repave only part of the road at this time since Somerset County has announced plans to repair culverts further down the street, McArthur said. He added it would make no sense to lay down fresh pavement in that area only to have it torn up during the county's later road work.

Officials at last week's meeting publicly thanked Far Hills Mayor Paul Vallone for facilitating the joint agreement.

McArthur later said he couldn't recall exactly what percentage of road improvements he was paying under the previous maintenance agreement for Douglas Road.