NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Borough Council heard a report on current and pending engineering projects and lightning detection system presentation at its Monday, March 9 meeting. Borough Engineer Andrew Hipolit along with Kevin Boyer and Bob Culvert, all of Maser Consulting firm, provided the information.

Boyer gave an overview on the ongoing and pending engineering projects:

  • The Union Ave. and Klein Ave. Intersection project will amend the bend on the road to improve traffic safety in that area. The construction is scheduled to begin in late March and end in May. The project cost is estimated at $170,000. Council President Robert Robinson explained that the project has been delayed due to the conversations with neighbors at that intersection.
  • The Lincoln Field project consists of turfing the infield and upgrading the drainage. The bid was recently opened and the contract will be awarded at the March 23 council meeting. The construction cost is estimated at approximately $20,000 excluding the cost of the turfing material.
  • The Grove Field project includes re-sodding the whole field and adding drainage. The bids for this project went out twice. Both bids received were rejected as the cost exceeded $40,000. The borough will meet with three different contractors regarding the cost.
  • Yearly sidewalk project. In addition to the regular sidewalk projects a decorative sidewalk will be added to Harmony Park.
  • The Fairview Avenue project is a Department of Transportation (DOT) grant project. The borough received $350,000 last year. Currently the project is in the design stages. The bidding process is expected to take place in June. The construction will likely start in August. The project encompasses sidewalk construction along the eastside of the road between Central and Union Avenues.
  • Tennis Courts: Last year courts 1 through 4 underwent a resurfacing upgrade. This year courts 5 through 8 will be upgraded. The bid has already been awarded. The construction will begin in June. Robinson pointed out that the work should be scheduled so that it does not interrupt the Boys tennis program. The project is estimated to cost $270,000.
  • The Firehouse project includes a new AC and heating system. The bidding process will begin shortly. The work should start in May-June. Mayor Al Morgan noted that currently all zones are messed up and this time the system “needs to get done right.”
  • Street Crossings: The borough has four locations with street crossing flashers which will be replaced with LED flashers this year.
  • The annual Sewer Lining Project is currently in process. The lines have already been videotaped and cleaned.
  • The Downtown Streetscape project is ongoing.
  • Downtown Traffic Study: Robinson explained that it is a county process. The borough is asking that the county install traffic calming measures on Springfield Avenue. Morgan suggested that the borough could add one or two flashers every year in order to improve pedestrian safety. Morgan also asked Hippolit why the sidewalks can’t be constructed all the way to the curb for easier snow removal. Hippolit responded that the requirement for sidewalk width is four feet. Six foot wide sidewalks can be constructed but it adds approximately 50 percent to the cost.

Hippolit also advised the borough to install lightning detectors. Culvert, who oversees such systems in several New Jersey towns, further explained how the new lightning detector system works and its benefits to the communities. He noted that Montville installed the system after two teenage boys died of lightning strikes at the town’s athletic field. Several Bergen County towns have since installed lightning detectors.

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The proposed lightning detector system is connected to a nationwide network. The alert method is lights and sirens which go off when the system detects lightning within striking distance. Once the storm has passed the system sends three horn sounds notifying “all clear.”  The town can set the system coverage area, usually at a 10-12 mile radius. “It is a great system,” it saves lives, Culvert said.

Culvert explained that the system, if installed in New Providence, would cover all schools, fields, and the town pool. Some municipalities have allowed private pools to subscribe to the system for a fee. Robinson asked if the towns with the lightning detectors have received any complaints from residents regarding the horn noise and warning lights. “No complaints whatsoever,” Culvert replied and noted that if fields are not used the horn can be turned off at a certain hour.