Dear Editor,

The staff recommendations for a new DPW facility has all the appearances of being prepared by people that don't pay taxes in Livingston. Actually, I don't think any of them do.  The Manager developed a Long Term Financial Plan that included "affordability" as an objective.  She failed to define the term.  Town Hall and how she furnished her own office demonstrates she doesn't know how to apply the concept of "affordability" to the planning for new DPW facilities.  The fact that the Manager has threatened the Mayor and Council that they must do something about the DPW isn't constructive leadership.

Here is what our professional staff has done so far:

Sign Up for E-News

  • Haven't explored various alternatives.

  • They began with the idea that the existing DPW site had to be abandoned.

  • They hope that the environmental problems could be easily solved and that this property would be developed into a ratable.

  • All facilities had to be located together at one location.

  • Allocate space for bus parking without the Board of Education's agreement.

  • Retain an architect for the sole purpose of laying out a wishlist of items supplied by township employees on private property they selected. (currently, a greenhouse is temporarily off the wish list)

  • Failed to present a budget

  • Proposed piecemeal financing with an initial bond ordinance of $2,000,00 just for the purpose of buying private property.

The Mayor and Council should require the administrative staff to go back and complete a comprehensive planning process that evaluates all the different alternatives.  I haven't seen any evidence that any real planning has occurred.

I recommend that the following approach be fully vetted before an final decision:

  • Use existing South Livingston Ave. site and the substantial property behind the Northfield Circle Fire House. More than sufficient acreage exists for all DPW requirements.

  • Consolidate all functions at these two locations.

  • It is sheer folly and fiscally irresponsible to buy land just to relocate items like mulch, gravel, snow plows etc.

  • Leave existing staff in Town Hall.

  • Relocate salt storage to the firehouse location.

  • Only for equipment that requires protection, build simple indoor storage facilities.

  • Clean up and reorganize the South Livingston Ave. location and build a minimum structure for bathrooms etc.

  • At either location, develop a vehicle maintenance facility.

  • School buses and trucks don't have to park next to each other.

  • Proceed only with a detailed budget and one comprehensive Bond Ordinance.

  • Create a mechanism to include and educate the public about the process/decisions.

The Mayor and Council plan to revisit this project at a 10/21/14 conference meeting.

Hopefully, our elected officials will bring logic, sensibility and the concept of "affordability to this decision process.

 

Sincerely,

Larry A. Kohn