Berkeley Heights Town Council Discusses Water Pollution Control Plant Roof Replacement; Residents Question $1.3M Connell Tax Reduction

Eight and a half year mesothelioma survivor Bonnie Anderson, along with her granddaughter, and Council President Joseph Bruno celebrate Mesothelioma Awareness Day, which is September 26th

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - JoAnn Mondsini, Director of the Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) located on Snyder Avenue in Berkeley Heights, made a request to the Berkeley Heights Town Council at Tuesday night's meeting to extend a bond for capital improvements at the WPCP to replace the roof at the facility.

According to Mondsini, the whole roof needs to be taken off and a new one be built that contains an environmentally-friendly system which has more benefits than a regular tile roof, according to Mondsini.

The replacement of the roof was not originally included in the two million dollar bond for WPCP improvements approved in 2008 as part of the facilities infrastructure project. Mondsini said that the roof was not included because it was not a top priority at the time.  Now, the roof is more of a priority because the roof is leaking, the water from which could pour onto the electrical control panel.  "If water gets in there it will completely wipe us out. There is nothing for us to do, but to completely replace this roof," Mondsini said.

It was also mentioned that there is still about $750,000 left from the $2 million dollar bond for WPCP improvements.

Councilman John Bonacci said that he was disappointed about the cost of the project. He said that the town is paying interest on the extra $750,000 bonded for the WPCP project that is currently not being used.

"I think we have to tighten up this stuff with our engineers," Bonacci said.

Mondsini mentioned that she obtained a cost estimate from engineering firm Omni that originally developed the project in 2006. She said that the estimate was about $270,000 to replace the roof; however, since asbestos was recently found on the roof, those cost estimates increased to approximately $350,000.

Councilman Kevin Hall suggested that this project should go before the township's engineer to attempt to reduce the cost of the roof replacement. He said an analysis of the roof should be done and then the project can go out to bid.

"I'm looking at this from a cost-benefit analysis," Hall said. "We are financially strapped and we need to spend money in an efficient way."

Council President Joseph Bruno said that more efficient estimates are needed to repair the roof and ultimately, replace it. He said money from the project must come out of the two million dollar bond so it does not cost Berkeley Heights' residents any money. Mondsini told the Township Council that she will have those estimates for the next meeting on September 28th.

In other news, Bruno declared September 26th as Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in one's inner organs and is usually caused by overexposure to asbestos. The Awareness Day is meant to make the public aware of the disease and the need to develop a cure for it.

At Tuesday's meeting, eight-and-a-half year survivor of mesothelioma and Berkeley Heights resident Bonnie Anderson spoke before the Council and the public. She said that she is a long-term survivor of the disease and statistics for survival have not really changed much.

"I volunteer that we try to get information out to the public as to where to find treatments and what treatments are now viable for either clinical trials or to stay alive for as long as possible," Anderson said.

During the public sector portion of the meeting, a lively question and answer period took place, concentrating on the recent $1.3M Connell tax reduction.  Resident Sean Mann asked members of the Council regarding what they knew or did not know and when they had learned about the situation.  He also asked about Mayor Cohen's involvement in informing the Council regarding the tax reduction.  The Alternative Press will have a full story out next week regarding the issue. 


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