NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Borough Council discussed traffic safety issues and the ongoing infrastructure projects affecting residents this summer at its Monday, June 12 meeting. The council also pondered whether to sell or lease the old borough hall.

Many Mountain Avenue residents showed up at the May council meeting to alert the council about their concerns regarding the traffic in their neighborhood. Borough Administrator Doug Marvin explained that the county will be paving Mountain Avenue from Division Avenue to Diamond Hill Road. He said that he has been in touch with Union County officials regarding the traffic safety on Mountain Avenue.

Marvin also told the council that JCP&L is willing to replace the current street light bulbs with LED light bulbs at no charge to the borough. He explained that the “cleaner, whiter light” of the LED bulbs could help visibility on sections of Mountain Avenue. Councilman Michael Gennaro noted that it would be best to switch a couple of street lights first so as to assess the degree of improvement and whether the brighter street light is acceptable, and not disturbing, to area residents. Councilman Robert Munoz agreed noting that the section between Division Avenue and Maple Street is all residential. He suggested that the LED lights be tested at the intersections first.

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Marvin noted that residents should expect some travel headaches this summer while both the NJ American Water Company and PSE&G are conducting their water and gas main replacements. The water company is currently working on Constantine Place, and moving on to Springfield Avenue shortly. The bulk of the work is being done during night hours. However, residents should expect some traffic delays and detours due to the ongoing work.

The gas main replacement project is affecting multiple borough neighborhoods and it is expected to continue throughout the summer. Residents will be notified by PSE&G approximately 7-10 days prior to the start of work in any particular neighborhood. Additionally, the borough’s own road paving and sidewalk repair projects will go on this summer. “When it’s all done, we will be in a good shape,” Marvin said.

The council also discussed the potential sale or lease of the old borough hall. The building is currently leased by Lassus Wherley and Associates with the lease agreement expiring at the end of this year. Clare Wherley had approached Marvin regarding the firm’s options, including a potential purchase of the building.

Marvin noted that the borough has not used the building for “the better part of 35 years.” If the borough were to utilize the building it would have to be upgraded to ADA-standards, which could be “difficult” to do. He also advised the borough that according to borough attorney the sale of the building would have to go through an auction process. Likewise, a lease of the building would have to go through a bidding process.

Mayor Al Morgan noted that Lassus Wherley has maintained the building very well. He also commended the special relationship that the borough has with the firm. “They are a great community partner.” Morgan acknowledged that if the lease goes through a bidding process, “we may lose them as a tenant,” he said. “That I don’t want to do.”

On the other hand Morgan said that “I don’t believe the borough should be in the real estate business.” He did not favor selling the property. Councilmen Robert Robinson and Robert Munoz spoke in favor of holding on to the property. Other councilmen agreed.

“I hope the tenant stays there,” Councilman Jim Madden said and noted that the frontage of the building is used for community events. The tenant has also been flexible with the spillover parking during borough events to the 17 parking spaces reserved to the firm.