RANDOLPH, NJ- The town council met on Thursday night, Jan. 15, for presentation on a much needed cell tower. The council also reviewed the township manager's goals for 2015.
As also presented in 2013/2014, the purpose of the cell tower would be to minimize communication system shortcomings exposed in recent weather emergencies, and to improve cellular coverage in schools to promote security and emergency communication.
“As many of you know this area we’re in is in a very poor cellular communication service area. That issue has been put in the forth front due to recent weather conditions,” said Township Manager Stephen Mountain.
The current communication complex tower is located behind the municipal building. It is 120 feet in height and is used for public safety communications and for the board of education.
The proposed complex tower is said to be 115 feet high. It would be for public safety communications and board of education use. It will also hold up to four cellular providers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless). The tower will be located behind the municipal building replacing the existing one once all antennas are relocated.
So far, a work group was formed to review the issue and a technical consultant, Glen Pearson, was hired. A full on-site coverage study was completed that included a radio frequency analysis.
In 2013, a baseline measurement of the strength of electromagnetic fields produced by radio frequency sources was conducted. Results of the study showed insufficient signal strength for the four major cellular providers inside buildings and along some streets in the studied area. The municipal building, firing range, three surrounding schools, playground, track and ball field are all below the 25 percent of the Federal Communications Commission standard for maximum permissible exposure levels for the general public.
The new tower would increase radio frequency levels by approximately four to five percent with the four major cellular carriers.
The consultant and work group reviewed the tower options and finalized their recommendation. The work group recommended building the tower as a tree figure instead of a long, plain tower. The recommendation split both the publics' and the councils' decision in half. Some believing the aesthetics of the tree would be a nicer view and others believing the extra cost of branches might be unnecessary creating an "eye-sore" instead.
“You have to remember, this tower is going to be an extra 15 to 30 feet in the air. The plain vanilla tower that we have up now has been there for 30 years and that’s fine. You don’t even notice it,” said Councilman Michael Guadagno.
The council recommended moving the process forward with the work group. The next steps are developing of a bid package, awarding a contract and involving the planning board for a site plan review.
The 2015 manager's goals encompassed a broad range of activities that include personal and organizational objectives.
“There is a lot going on and we’re making progress on a lot already,” said Mountain.
The first goal is the 2015 budget. The 2015 budget will be prepared and Mountain expects the year-end financial picture to reflect improvement. Mountain will propose a document that balances organizational and community needs with the annual objective of maintaining Randolph's long-term fiscal stability.
Second goal, Mountain is working to close negotiations. Specifically with the Teamster's Union and he hopes to reach a contract agreement in early 2015. He will have a proposed settlement to offer the council on the Randolph Supervisory Employee Association (RTSEA) and Randolph Employee Association (RTEA) contracts in January. Lastly, negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union representatives on a new police contract will be initiated in late summer.
Third goal, Appraisal Systems, Inc. will movesforward with the town-wide revaluation of property.
Goal four, the revised settlement agreement with developer of the Westminster property (Brookside Road and Shunpike) will be executed in early 2015. The ordinance to fund the township share of the Butterworth II sewer improvement project will be introduced. Phase III of the Butterworth improvements will be designed and readied for bid in 2015. Mountain will also work with a council work group to review current Mount Freedom planning and zoning issues with the goal of establishing a set of action steps by the end of the year.
Goal five, Mountain plans to have a fund ordinance for EA Porter Site Remediation Project ready to proceed by late spring. Contracts will be awarded for the environmental remediation as well as construction activities by the end of summer. The intent is to break ground on the demolition phase of the project by fall. The goal is to transfer the site to Habitat for Humanity for construction of affordable housing.
Goal six, Mountain will work with the Economic Development Committee and Planning and Zoning Administrator to provide support for several pending development projects in the community, including Grecco and Kmart properties.
Goal seven, Mountain will participate on the steering committee guiding the Parks Master Plan process and will oversee the work of the township's consultant for the project, Brandstetter Carroll, Inc.
Goal eight, Mountain presented the council work group's recommendation for development of a cell tower on the municipal complex site.
Goal nine, Mountain will work with the council work group on facilities and staff review of all municipal facilities with the goal of preparing a municipal facility master plan.
Goal 10, Mountain will continue to spearhead efforts to press the state department of transportation for the development of the new ingress/egress along Route 10 eastbound lane and other promised improvements to Route 10 and various intersections in Randolph. The sewer and water projects on the County College of Morris' library property along Route 10 will have a completed schedule this year.
Goal 11, the town's consultant Hatch Mott McDonald puts the final touches on the plan and will schedule its presentation to the council in early 2015. Mountain will work with the infrastructure council work group on prioritizing the recommended actions and integrating these recommendations into future capital budgets.
Goal 12, the animal shelter work is completed and staff will have the move-in completed in January. A ribbon cutting ceremony might be scheduled for late March to early April.
Goal 13, the Sussex Turnpike improvements project is out to bid. Work is anticipated to commence in the spring. The Ironia Road Bridge project is planned for a 2015 replacement and the county is now advising the Combes Hollow Bridge to be replaced in 2016.
Goal 14, the design for the Mac Spar Sewer Extension Project is underway and should be complete in early 2015. Mountain expects the project to be out for bid by late spring and the project to be completed in 2015.
Goal 15, the town will continue on highlands conformance forward in the coming year. The review and appraisal of the wastewater management plan is a crucial step. Mountain will work with the council and staff on this in the early part of the year.
Goal 16, the council approved a revised approach to the wall replacement during the past year. Mountain is working closely with Paul Ferriero to implement the first phase of the plan to remove/repair/replace walls in disrepair. With the approval of the capital funds in the 2015 budget the town will continue this work on a triage basis.
Goal 17, a community development grant was submitted for the installation of an elevator at the Veterans For War (VFW) building. The elevator will address the most significant issue with the buildings ADA accessibility. Other improvements are currently being completed with the funds approved in the 2014 budget. The improvements will better the building's aesthetics and functionality.
The last goal 18, Mountain will work closely with the fire department on an agreement to allow the department to convert the existing animal shelter building into a fire-training center. Mountain expects to have a draft of the agreement ready for the council's review in the first part of 2015.
“That’s the list and some of these will come quicker than others. Many are already moving on. With the help of the council we can make this another successful year,” said Mountain.