FLEMINGTON, NJ – Hunterdon County Freeholders introduced a $31.6 million bond ordinance yesterday that could be used toward a clubhouse for the county-owned Heron Glen Golf Course in Raritan Township and an expanded Emergency Services Training Center in Clinton Township.

The plan includes using about $2.61 million in grant money, which would allow the county to borrow up to $27.6 million under the plan.  

A public hearing on the ordinance will be held July 19. As Freeholder Rob Walton noted, while the ordinance authorizes the borrowing, it does not authorize actually spending any money. Freeholder approval will still be required before any project can proceed.

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Freeholders plan for the projects to be paid for using “a combination of existing money that has been set aside ... along with modest debt service to accomplish these important investments,” according to a press release.

The county currently has no debt.

According to the press release, the problem at Heron Glen is that the onsite trailers “have exceeded their useful lifespan” after 15 years of use.

“Heron Glen currently lacks adequate storage and kitchen preparation space which negatively affects operations and the ability to meet customers’ needs,” it states. Large events require rented tents costing $25,000 a year and the existing trailers are not energy efficient, according to the release.

The expanded Emergency Training Center would be built at the site of the current center, also known as the “fire school,” which is on Petticoat Lane. Plans call for a new “burn building,” an administrative building with classroom space and improvements to existing structures on the site.

According to the press release, the training center registered 4,251 students in 2014 and awarded 2,869 training certifications. The last major improvement to the center was made in 1995 with the construction of the burn building, which is “nearing the end of its useful life,” according to the press release. The existing center has been in operation for more than 25 years.

Walton cast the only vote against introducing the bond ordinance. A volunteer firefighter himself and a supporter of the county's emergency services, he has also been an outspoken critic against the county-owned golf course.