New Providence Borough Council Votes to Support Grant Application for Generator at Senior Center

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NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ  - The Borough Council voted Monday to support a $76,000 application for a Commnity Development Block Grant to support the installation of a generator at the Elizabeth Barabash Manor senior center.

The estimated cost of a generator is $110,000, said Raymond Cooney, director of the Barabash Manor. He said the senior center can contribute $30,000 to the cost of the generator.

The need for a generator was evident during the October snowstorm when residents suffered considerable distress when the building lost power. A generator is also being installed at the municipal complex.

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Council President Michael Gennaro said that thanks to planning by borough and police officials, the municipal complex was prepared to address the low power conditions of the snow storm. New Providence handled emergency dispatching for a neighboring town which had lost power, he said.

Maureen Parker, of the borough community activities department, and a representative on the Union County panel that reviews block grant applications, said there is a better than even chance the generator application will not be fully funded by the committee.  Applications generally receive partial funding.

Parker said there is less money available for block grants. Funds for the program have been cut as the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development seeks to trim its budget.

Councilman Vincent Vyzas asked Cooley if the senior center would have  enough reserve funds if it put $30,000 toward the cost of the generator.

Cooley said that the buiding is well maintained and that the building's windows were replaced with another grant.

"We don't have any major problems and don't anticipate having any problems," he said.

The council agreed to cover any balance that is left once the grant amount is determined, and the senior center's $30,000 is applied to the purchase.

Gennaro said the borough has a reserve in its capital fund that could be used, if necessary.

In other business, the council approved a resolution to enact the changes in the open space trust fund approved  by voters in a November referendum.

Mayor J. Brook Hern said that voters gave the borough permission to use the trust fund to pay for improvements to passive and active recreation facilities. The borough collects one-quarter cent in property taxes to supply open space funding.

Residents also approved the sale of up to four consumpton liquor licenses in November, but enactment of that change will require a new zoning ordinance from the planning board, and a changes to the existing liquor ordinance to incorporate the changes decided on by the council. Neither ordinance is written and any action on them will take place next year.

The council also approved seeking  2012 Safe Route to School funding. Hern said residents had raised concerns about some unsafe walking conditions near schools.

The borough is seeking funding for 3,600 linear feet of sidewalk that would  be installed in gaps in the sidewalks near four borough schools, Hern said, continuing  program tat has been on-going for a number of years.

The council also carried Monday's meeting to Jan. 3, when it will reconvene prior to the annual reorganization meeting. The Dec. 27 council meeting was canceled.

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