CLARK, NJ - The Clark Town Council unanimously approved a $700K bond ordinance during Monday night's meeting which will allow for the preliminary phases of work toward a new Public Safety Building to begin.
The ordinance was presented to the council earlier in the month. The approval of this bond ordinance means the township can begin to engage architectural and engineering services and perform necessary parking lot and roadway improvements needed in conjunction with building a new home for the Clark Police.
No residents came forward to question the council or raise opposition during the period of the meeting designated for the hearing of the public prior to voting. The town clerk also stated into record that no objections were received at town hall in connection with the ordinance since it was proposed on July 2.
Others close to this project spoke as both residents and members of the police force when they addressed the council. Captain Vincent Concina, a Clark resident for 20 years, expressed his gratitude to the mayor and council for their support of this project.
During the meeting a letter from the Clark PBA Local 125 State Delegate was read aloud. The letter written by Maz Elwardany, thanked the township for recognizing the need for new facilities.
Police Chief Pedro Matos stepped forward to offer his thoughts about the project after the council voted. He began by saying that he agreed with all the comments he heard throughout the meeting and wanted to offer something more to the residents.
“My next step will be to form a committee within the police department to look into what we need, what we don’t need, what we will need in ten years and what the final look of the building will be,” said Matos. “I am a tax payer in Clark, I do take that … financial responsibility that is entrusted to me very seriously… we will end up with a building the residents can be proud of and … will serve the needs of the police department (not only) today but 20, 30, 40 years from now…a safe environment for police officers to work in.” Addressing town officials, Matos said, “I thank you very much this was a much needed action; maybe today, maybe five years from now but it was definitely going to have to happen.”
He closed his comments to the public with a commitment to residents that there will be necessities and not grandeur in the building. He assured the public there would be "no gold-plated doorknobs" or other unnecessary expenses. Mayor Bonaccorso mirrored these sentiments in his address to the public and committed to a a functional and attractive building inside and out without splendor.
Bonaccorso recapped that the cost to update the building with seven new bathrooms, all new windows and new HVAC, was projected to be anywhere between 1.5 to 2 million dollars. These costs would not have included upgrades to the jails to make them compliant with state standards nor would it include locker rooms for female staff members.
He also reminded the public that when dealing with an old building, there are always more problems found when walls are opened which increases costs and would leave the town at the mercy of the contractors.
Bonaccorso empathically stressed there would be no burden on property taxes to support this project when he introduced it to the council in early July. He reinforced that commitment on Monday evening.
“This community can easily afford this building,” said Bonaccorso. “If you follow our bonded debt over the last 18 years, whether it (the total project cost) comes in at 3.5, 4.5 or 5 million dollars …when we go out to permanent financing that building which we can spread over a 20 or 30 year span, that number (final cost of building), will not be the number we bond.”
Bonaccorso went on to credit Clark Business Administrator John Laezza’s financial wizardry for the town’s fiscal health and the expectation that the town can get a bond anticipation note as low as .1 percent. “That is almost free money folks,” said Bonaccorso.
He briefly explained a bond anticipation note can be used for 3, 5, or 10 years before going out for permanent financing. Bonaccorso indicated Laezza will use this time to pay principal and interest under the benefit of the anticipated low rate.
“Whatever this building comes in at...if it comes in at four million we’ll never go out to permanent financing for four million we will have a good chunk of that paid down which will ease the township onto the schedule (of payment),” said Bonaccorso. He also mentioned the town has two million dollars of bonded debt moving off the books in 2019.
He stressed to residents that the building isn’t a nice thing to do, but a much needed upgrade. “We’ve never done things in this community because someone deserves it, we’ve done it on the facts of necessity, that it makes good sound business sense and our projects have come in on time and done the right way,” said Bonaccorso.
Councilman and Clark Historian Brian Toal, gave a brief history of the various locations of public safety buildings throughout town since its beginning. He made a point to say that the current police headquarters was created when an addition was put onto what was the municipal building in 1958. At that time, the town administrators committed to revisit building a police station in 25 years.
“We are setting the building blocks for the 21st century,” said Toal. “This mayor and this administration have done everything to lay the ground work, not for us, but for the next generation in Clark to come. Your children, your grandchildren, we are placing the stones for the foundation for our next Clark.”
Toal closed by thanking the mayor for his support and his vision and making it sound from a budget perspective.
Councilwoman Angel Albanese also weighed in thanking the mayor and fellow council members for recognizing the need for this project as part of Clark’s progress.
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