SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- An estimated 200 people attended the Scotch Plains Downtown Redevelopment Committee meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Many of them expressed their objections to the idea of moving the Municipal Building, police and fire departments to a location on Plainfield Avenue.
"The site is very challenging and many questions will have to be answered before the Township can agree to move forward with relocation. Financing, traffic, and environmental studies will be conducted and reviewed as part of this process," said Tom Strowe, coordinator of downtown redevelopment in Scotch Plains. "The Township expects to go through several drafts of schematics for relocated buildings on Plainfield Avenue. Nothing has been finalized at this time."
"The courts are watching what we are doing. We are doing our best to manage it," said Mayor Al Smith. "We have put a lot of money in this (Municipal) building. It's falling apart. We have two big fire trucks on the Southside. We need to find a place for one on the North Side."
Police Chief Ted Conley and Deputy Fire Chief Skip Paal both spoke about the advantages of moving their departments out of the center of downtown, but at times were interrupted.
The meeting took a more cordial tone after former Councilwoman Colleen Gialanella asked the crowd to respect each other.
"We can have a civil dialog, we should all be working together," said the former Councilwoman.
Mayor Smith emphasized during the meeting that any buildings would be built to code and would safe.
"If the property cannot be remediated, there will be no buildings built. If the DEP doesn't approve it, we won't construct anything. We cannot build on contaminated land," Mayor Smith said in a phone interview with TAPintoSPF. "If the DEP says it is clean, then we can decide whether we will build something on it,"
The mayor has no cost estimate yet of what the move would cost, but expects to have a figure until 2020. He also invited the audience to continue to be involved and attend the Downtown Redevelopment meetings every second Wednesday of the month.
To view the video of the meeting, click below: