SOMERVILLE, NJ - Progress is being made on the long-awaited public safety complex that will centralize the borough's police department, fire department, EMS and Somerset County's 911 Emergency Call center under one roof on a vacant piece of property on Gaston Avenue on the former site of the Gaston Avenue bakery and two other buildings.
The property was purchased by the borough in 2019 and was cleared last year to make way for the new complex. Borough Council members envision a three-story building on the site to house all borough emergency services.
“Public health and safety are local government’s top priority. Somerville’s new Emergency Services Complex will ensure a safe community for all who work here, visit here, and most importantly, live here,” said Mayor Dennis Sullivan.
The developer, FD Stonewater of Virginia met with key members of the borough's emergency services advisory and planning committee in February and late last week for preliminary discussions on the design of the building. Key members include Police Chief Dennis Manning, Fire Chief Brian Iselin, EMS/Rescue Chief Michael Lapotasky and Steve Weinman, coordinator of the borough Office of Emergency Management.
“The building we are currently occupying is inadequate for police operations," Manning said. "This new facility will increase the efficiency and operational capabilities of the Police Department well into the future.”
The Borough Council hired FD Stonewater in December. All facets of the project will be overseen by FD Stonewater making the developer responsible for completing the full design, construction and financing of the project. FD Stonewater has developed and managed similar projects throughout the United States for federal, state, and local governments They have designed buildings for the FBI and CIA.
The FD Stonewater team includes design architects, SmithGroup, and civil engineering firm Kimley Horne. Harvey Cleary will be the General Contractor for the project.
FD Stoneweater is real estate brokerage, investment, development and asset management firm.
“The Somerville Office of Emergency Management is proud to collaborate with our partners in law enforcement, EMS and fire to design a state-of-the-art facility that will serve the members of these vital services, as well as the residents and visitors of Somerville for decades to come. The success of Somerville as a destination community makes us the most active municipality in Somerset County. Our Borough Council has stepped up and this complex will accomplish this important task and more,” Weinman said.
“Collaboration is at the heart of the design process. Spending time with stakeholders, asking the right questions, fostering intelligent discussion and listening closely are all keys to ensuring that we capture the appropriate vision and to convert that into something tangible,” said Claiborne Williams, Partner at FD Stonewater.
In conjunction with the design workshops, the entire project team toured each of the existing facilities to better understand current operations and to identify opportunities to enhance those spaces, Faster response times, greater efficiency, were common goals among all the departments in discussing the new facility, according to Williams. Ensuring the complex can meet the diverse needs of the community, now and for decades to come, is also a collective priority, he added.
“The complex will provide a more effective and efficient operation for today, while preparing for the future of the borough's fire department,” Iselin said.
Lapotasky added, "Somerville Rescue Squad and its members are excited about this project, not only for the department and what it means to them, but also what it represents for the community and the benefits it will provide to deserving agencies and residents.”
Regular updates on the status of the project will be posted on the Borough’s website at www.somervillenj.org.