NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – At its Monday, Oct. 8 meeting, the Borough Council turned back the calendar some five or six years to re-open discussions on the creation of a co-generating plant. 

The idea, according to Councilman Bob Robinson, was to use micro-turbines to convert natural gas to generate electricity to power the Municipal Center, the Rescue Squad and Memorial Library.

“Any excess production could be sold back to the electric company,” Robinson said, which could provide added revenues to the borough as well as reduce expenses. 

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Years ago, the original idea was considered novel but not revolutionary, floundered due to equipment costs and rising natural gas prices.

However, one important ingredient in the equation has changed – the price of natural gas. 

Council President Michael Gennaro said that over the past several years increased exploration and the discovery of shale fields has driven the price of natural gas down by about 75 percent.

“There is almost a surplus in the United States which is expected to continue for a lot of years,” Gennaro said.

There was general agreement from council members that the idea deserves a second look and that several suppliers should be invited to provide presentations.

In other action, the borough council approved a resolution to send a “friendly” letter to Union County Freeholders asking if the county had conducted or planned a study on the benefits of combining the responsibilities of the County Police Department and Sheriff’s Department into one organization.

Robinson said that Union and Bergen were the only counties in the state that had separate organization for the two agencies. The resolution provided an invitation for a Freeholder to speak in person or respond by mail. 

Favoring the resolution which was ultimately unanimously approved, Gennaro urged that the council “not fall into the trap of criticizing everyone else.”

Mayor J. Brooke Hern said the role of the Borough Council is to serve as an advocate for Borough residents. “We are not a watchdog organization,” he added.

Addressing local safety, the council passed a resolution awarding a $561,000 contract to Pierce Manufacturing for a GPM Pumper Truck.  Fire Chief Ralph Parlapiano who attended the meeting said the new pumper would replace a 20-year-old piece of equipment that is showing signs of wear and at the end of its lifespan. The borough is expected to take delivery of the new equipment next June.

The Borough Council also approved a $190,000 bond for improvements at Hillview Field.  The total cost is $300,000 with the remaining funds coming from a Union County grant and the borough’s Open Space Fund.

Hern presented Robinson who serves as a liaison to the Municipal Alliance with a proclamation declaring October 19 – 26 as Red Ribbon Week.  “The Red Ribbon is a symbol of agreement to fight drug and alcohol abuse,” Mayor Hern said.  Councilman Armand Galluccio urged residents to become members of the Municipal Alliance.  People wishing to learn more about the alliance and becoming members are urged to attend a meeting next Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Murray Hill Inn. There will also be a guest speaker alerting parents to the presence of “new” drugs in the community.