SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Residents of the north side of town took to the microphone during Tuesday’s Scotch Plains Township Council meeting to voice their opposition to the Township’s plan to move the municipal building, the police department, and the fire department to the town-owned DPW property on Plainfield Avenue (near Memorial Field).
Among the speakers were Len Brzozowski and his wife, Janice, residents of Henry Street, who explained that they moved to Scotch Plains 43 years ago to live in suburbia.
“When we bought our house… we didn’t expect that the town would build a municipal complex right next to our bedroom window,” Mr. Brzozowski said. “You’re going to knock down a perfectly beautiful town hall and put up a five-story apartment complex with a parking garage. We object to the point that you will put this (municipal complex) up in a residential area.”
“This is a bad idea,” Mr. Brzozowski said, commenting on the prospect of having emergency vehicles moving down Henry Street. “That piece of property was a dump. It might not be buildable.”
“If it is unbuildable, it won’t be built,” answered Mayor Al Smith, who said the location of the Township’s public buildings is “an impediment to redevelopment” in the downtown business district.
The mayor also invited leaders of the police and fire department to the microphone at Tuesday’s meeting to provide their input.
“In 22 years since I’ve been here, I always thought the police department doesn’t belong in the center of town. It’s not a restaurant, it’s not a business. It’s very congested here,” said Police Chief Ted Conley, who supports the idea of having the current municipal building as a commercial property. “We would be better off on the outskirts of town. The new buildings will be designed to blend in. For the most part, inside the building, the department is very quiet.”
“The current North Side firehouse was not built as a fire station. It was a DPW building. The space does not allow us down the road to purchase equipment the size that we will need,” said Skip Paal, deputy chief of the Scotch Plains fire department, which does not have a ladder truck on the north side of town.
“The best place to express your concerns is at the Downtown Redevelopment Committee meeting,” said Deputy Mayor Josh Losardo. “The mayor and I are always present. All residents who want their voices heard should come to those meetings.”
Deputy Mayor Losardo added that the committee will report to the public at the next meeting and that the committee is months away from discussing final plans.
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