BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The Bernards Township Committee has hired a Newton contractor to install a backup generator at town hall that officials hope will be in place before winter. The bill is to be covered by a federal FEMA grant.

The installation of the generator is a key part of a plan to prepare the town hall to serve as a "warming center," central command post, and place for residents to recharge in the event of another major power outage or weather disaster. The historic town hall is located at the municipal complex at 1 Collyer Lane in Basking Ridge.

The generator to keep the town hall powered up in emergencies will hopefully be installed "before the snow flies," Township Administrator Bruce McArthur said following Tuesday's Township Committee meeting.

Sign Up for E-News

If Bernards experiences another widespread and long-lasting power outage, township officials also want to be able to keep municipal operations up and running at the municipal complex. Police, school, and municipal officials, as well as other emergency responders, met in a small downstairs room in the police department during the prolonged power outage following Sandy in 2012.

The township already has awarded a contract for the actual generator about $85,000. On Tuesday night, the Township Committee awarded a contract to Power With Prestige of Newton to perform the complete installation of the generator system, to include electrical work, for $157,800.

McArthur said Bernards Township has received a $250,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover all costs associated with the generator, its installation and necessary building system upgrades.

The earlier renovations to the main meeting room at the town hall also prepared it to be a place for the public and officials to meet during emergencies, if necessary.