CLARK, NJ - A rendering of the new Clark Police Station was revealed by Mayor Sal Bonaccorso during the last town council meeting. The mayor said the new police headquarters is something that is needed and long overdue. “I’m doing this on the basis of need, they need this, the town needs this,” said Bonaccorso.
According to Bonaccorso, the current police station is over 60 years old and has had several additions and “has been chopped over the years, it’s been numerous different things, a fire house, police station, town hall at one time.” He said at this point it is in need of major repairs.
The mayor said several contractors were brought in to give estimates to update and repair the current facility. The starting cost would be at least three million dollars not counting any additional challenges that might arise once walls are opened in a building that old, Bonaccorso said.
Another million dollars would be needed to get trailers to house the department, the communications center and to maintain a temporary jail-cell trailer according to the mayor. In the end, contractors recommended tearing it down and starting over said Bonaccorso.
The mayor continued his presentation by saying that the conditions in the building are deplorable. As he showed photos of various areas of the current police station, Bonaccorso said, “I’m not proud to show the community this but you need to see what we are working with.”
Photos included a look at locker rooms, showers, commodes and windows all original to the building in either stages of disrepair or completely unusable. Bonaccorso showed a room filled with wires that he called the “spaghetti factory,” which houses all the wiring for phone service and electric gathered in nests of connections filling the space.
An additional photo of the boiler room showed what the mayor referred to as an antiquated system with asbestos. Bonaccorso said there is not consistent heating or cooling throughout the building. He said officers use space heaters in the winter and window air conditioner units in the warm weather to help combat the air coming in through the single-pane original windows, holes in ceilings and walls made of thin materials not suitable for outside walls.
The new single-level police headquarters will be built behind the current building, so the department can continue to function without interruption until the new building is ready. The new facility will house the police department, jail, municipal courts and related offices and is designed to meet all of the specific codes required by today’s local, county and state laws.
The building was designed to fit the look and style of the town said Bonaccorso. “I did not want a state-of-the-art building with a lot of glass, curves and slanted ceilings… I believe a police department should be distinctive looking, something that you’ll look at and say wow,” said Bonaccorso. He described the proposed building as having more of a colonial old-time look.
As part of this construction project, the town is working to align Emerald Place and the roadway exiting the police station adjacent to the side of the high school so the streets will line up to create an intersection. Discussions are underway about what type of traffic light might be installed at that crossing.
According to current estimations the project will go out to bid by the middle of August and officials hope to break ground by the end of September. The entire project is estimated to take between 14 and 16 months.
“I want to assure the community that this project is going to be the right thing for our community,” said Bonaccorso. “John Laezza with his fiscal prudence putting us on the right track 19 years ago and has really paid off because today we will be able to do this project without killing the taxpayers in this town.”
Clark Business Administrator John Laezza stepped in to explain the financials around the project and how it will fit into the town’s budgetary planning.
Laezza said he has designed a plan to spread out a capital program that will pay off the cost of the new police headquarters, in addition to road structure and other capital projects, totaling approximately $11M through the year 2036.
“This plan will help maintain a mortgage of 2.925 so that means there is no increase in taxes from what they are now for debt service over the next 17 years.” said Laezza. “…(and) we will also have the ability to add new capital as needed.”
Bonaccorso praised Laezza’s fiscal planning and the his ability to maintain the town’s bonds (debt services). He also expressed pride in being a part of an administration, that with Laezza’s guidance, has “paid down debt not just paid interest on it.”
Bonaccorso invited residents to stop by town hall to see the plans for the new building or to call with questions.
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